Also, there was the weekly officiating gaffe.
Q. Strategy: the play of the game was an overtime sneak by quarterback
Right call by Coach Jim Schwartz?
A. No. My first guess was to kick the field goal, take the tie, and put the game on your defense to make a stop.
As it turned out, Schwartz did not want to go for the first down. The play was to try to draw the Titans offside. If they didn’t jump, the Lions would call time and kick the tying field goal – a 25-yard kick and a relative tap-in for Hanson.
“That was a miscommunication,” Schwartz said. “We were trying to draw them offside. We need to obviously make sure all 11 guys get the calls right there and be able to play it.”
Schwartz took the blame for the miscommunication, calling it his responsibility.
He and Hill would not elaborate exactly on what went wrong.
“I’m the quarterback,” Hill said. “It’s my job to get all 11 people in the right place.”
It turned into an all-or-nothing play, and the Lions wound up with nothing.
How worried should the Lions be about Stafford?
A. Nobody should sleep until they see him at practice, and ready to play in the next game. Hill does an admirable job in relief, but the offense revolves around Stafford’s arm.
Since he did not finish the game, the odds are that Stafford will not play in the next game against Minnesota. But that has not been determined.
Q. Penalties: sorting through all the problems and misplays, what ultimately hurt the Lions the most?
A. Penalties were killers last year, and they made the difference again Sunday. They weren’t the only misplays, but they were glaring in overtime.
Two plays after that,
There were other plays in the Titans’ overtime possession after they received the kickoff. One was a 13-yard pass completion on third and 10.
But that wouldn’t have happened without the holding penalty.
Q. Replacement gaffe: How did the officials err on the penalty against Tulloch?
A. It’s supposed to be a 15-yard penalty. After the ball was spotted, it was announced in the press box that the officials actually had spotted the ball as a 24-yard gain for the Titans.
Several minutes later, a correction was announced. The spot actually was 27 yards. Incredible!
Q. Breakdowns: Aside from penalties, what were the Lions’ biggest failings?
A. They were across the board – offense, defense and special teams.
Q. Start with special teams: Did those breakdowns that gave the Titans two TDs hurt the Lions the most?
A. Yes, because they resulted in two touchdowns. The Titans scored one touchdown on a throw-back pass on a punt, and then a 105-yard TD return on a kickoff after the Lions had taken a 27-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
They were two back-breakers – 14 points you can’t expect to get in a month, let alone in one game on special teams.
Q. Defense: Where was that unit culpable?
A. It wasn’t just one place. They had four offside penalties, which is a problem that still hasn’t been cleaned up.
The Titans had scored a league-low 23 points in the first two games. They didn’t burn up the scoreboard on offense, but they beat the Lions on big plays – a 61-yard TD pass to Jared Cook in the first half and a 71-yard fluke to Nate Washington to break a 27-27 tie late in the fourth quarter.
Q. Washington’s catch: On his TD, it looked like he plucked the ball off the back of Lions’ defensive back
A. Not really. It was a strange play, but he was in position to make a play on the ball and didn’t. Good things happen when you make good plays. Bad things happen when you don’t. It’s the tough part of playing defensive back in the NFL.
Q. Dead zone: The Lions have settled for field goals instead of touchdowns the last two games. How much has that hurt them?
A. They’ve scored only four TDs in the last two games, and one came with 18 seconds left Sunday.
The offense is supposed to carry the team, but it has misfired far too often for the amount of talent it has.
The offense even gave away the clinching touchdown Sunday – a 72-yard fumble return by Alterraun Verner. He took the ball away from
Q. Leshoure debut: Mikel Leshoure made his long-awaited first appearance and started. Was that a surprise?
A. I thought Leshoure would be used early and often, but I expected
Q. How would you assess his performance?
A. It was a good beginning. Leshoure showed power at times, ability to miss tackles at times and some speed. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he can cut without slowing down.
He ran tough, caught the ball and was durable. It looks like the Lions have found their feature running back. Not a star, but someone they can count on.
Q. Double-duty kicker: How impressive was Jason Hanson’s performance for taking over the punting duties after
A. The best way to say it is that Jason Hanson played like Jason Hanson. If he isn’t the best kicker of his era, at least he’s the most consistent and durable.
Nothing seems to affect him in a negative way. He hadn’t punted in a game since 2003, and it’s doubtful if he’s had much practice. Kicking and punting are entirely different leg actions, but Hanson punted like a pro and kicked field goals like a pro.
He even executed a perfect onside kick that gave the Lions their last possession.
It was a pro at work, in every way.