TWENTYMAN: Lions eliminated from playoff contention after 23-20 loss to Giants in overtime

Posted Dec 22, 2013

An interception with under five minutes to go in the game leads to overtime and an eventual Giants win

So much was on the line Sunday for the Detroit Lions, and yet they found a way to come out of the gate completely flat at home against the New York Giants, falling behind by as much a 10 points in the first half.

When they finally picked it up in the second half, and had Ford Field rocking after a safety by Nick Fairley and a 2-yard touchdown run by Theo Riddick that gave them a lead, they found a way to throw away another game – literally.

Leading 20-13 late in the fourth quarter, the Giants were gifted their only touchdown of the second half when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw high to tight end Joseph Fauria on a third-down play with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

The ball went off Fauria's fingertips and was intercepted by Giants safety Will Hill, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.

The score set up overtime, where Giants quarterback Eli Manning found Jerrel Jernigan on a 4th and 7 play for 15 yards down to the Detroit 27-yard line that eventually led to a Josh Brown 45-yard field goal and 23-20 Giants victory.

"I just don't know," an exasperated Nate Burleson said after the game. "We would hope, week-after-week, as a team, we'd figure it out and not fail in certain moments of the game.

"We had opportunities. We had a chance."

Theo RiddickRB Theo Riddick's fourth-quarter touchdown led to a seven-point lead for the Lions. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

That is probably the most frustrating part about Sunday's game, and the last month and a half of the season, in fact. The Lions have had opportunities to make plays and win games and have found ways to fail at doing so.

The loss now eliminates them from playoff contention and caps off an amazing collapse by this team over the last six weeks. It's their fifth loss in their last six games after starting the season 6-3.

The interception late in the fourth quarter was Stafford's 12th over that span.

The loss instantly brings about questions regarding head coach Jim Schwartz's future status. The Lions have now collapsed in the second half of the season for a second year in a row, though this one is particularly hard to swallow for Lions fans.

There never seemed to be a sense of urgency from this team against the Giants, especially on offense, with their playoff fate hinging on a must-win situation. Instead, the Lions were plagued by some of the same mistakes that have cost them games recently, most notably turnovers.

The Lions turned the ball over three times, bringing their total to 21 in their last 24 quarters.

Running back Joique Bell played well in the loss. He had 91 rushing yards and 63 receiving (on 10 catches) and scored the other Lions touchdown.

Stafford finished 25-of-42 passing for 222 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 53.9 passer rating.

The Lions will finish out the season next week in Minnesota in a game that all of the sudden doesn't mean a whole lot.