TWENTYMAN: Lions lose thriller, 27-24, on last second field goal

Posted Oct 20, 2013

There were a lot of "what ifs" Sunday, and the Lions are left wondering what could have been in a 27-24 loss to the Bengals

Sunday could be one of those games the Lions look back on later this season and wonder, "what if?"

  • What if cornerback Chris Houston hadn’t fallen for the double move on Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green’s 82-yard touchdown on the first defensive series of the game?
  • What if the Lions special teams units had accounted for Carlos Dunlap up the middle before he blocked a David Akers field goal attempt late in the second quarter that led to a touchdown right before the half?
  • What if Sam Martin hadn’t shanked his last punt out of bounds in the last minute of the game?

There were a lot of "what ifs" Sunday, and the Lions are left wondering what could have been in a 27-24 loss to the Bengals.

Martin’s 28-yard punt from the Lions 23-yard line with 34 seconds left in the game turned out to be a major blunder by the rookie.

Martin kicked the ball out of bounds giving the Bengals the ball at their 49-yard line with 26 seconds left on the clock. The kick allowed Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to convert two short passes to Dane Sanzenbacher and Giovani Bernard to set Mike Nugent up for a game-winning 54-yard field goal as time expired.

The Lions fall to 4-3 on the season after the loss.

Martin’s blunder was costly, certainly, but so was the front four's inability to get to Dalton and the secondary’s failure to make a play in the back end, pretty much all day long. Dalton threw for a season-high 372 yards and three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 135.9. He was sacked just once.

His favorite target on the day was All Pro receiver A.J. Green, who finished with six catches for 155 yards, including that 82-yarder on Houston on their first series of the game.

The Lions had little answers for the Bengals passing attack and even benched Houston at one point for the rookie Darius Slay, but one of it worked.

The offense still had an opportunity to drive the ball and win the game after forcing the Bengals to punt late and getting the ball back on their own 6-yard line with 1:43 left. However, quarterback Matthew Stafford and Co. could only manage one first down and Martin’s subsequent poor punt sealed the Lions fate.

Stafford finished the game 28-of-51 passing for 357 yards and three touchdowns.

His favorite target was Calvin Johnson, who recorded nine catches for 155 yards and two second-half touchdowns of 27 and 55 yards.

It was a franchise-record 35th 100-yard receiving day for Johnson, but not enough to get the Lions a win.