LIONS INSIDER

TWENTYMAN: The good and the bad from Sunday's 37-27 loss

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at key factors - good and bad - from Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh

A lot of the conversation in Detroit today centers around the call by Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to try a fake field goal in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-5, instead of opting for a seven-point lead on the road.

Matthew Stafford, Jim SchwartzQB Matthew Stafford with head coach Jim Schwartz (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

The play didn’t work, which opens Schwartz up for criticism. To his credit, he stood up and backed his decision in the post-game press conference.

While those seven seconds are getting a lot of talk, there were a lot of other plays through the course of the other 59 minutes and 53 seconds that impacted the game.

Here’s a look at some of the good and some of the bad from the Lions 37-27 loss to the Steelers.

THE BAD …

STAFFORD’S SECOND HALF

Stafford ended up with 362 yards passing, but only 35 of those came in the second half and Stafford didn’t complete a pass on his last 12 drop-backs.

He was the victim of a couple drop passes, none more crucial than Jeremy Ross’ along the sideline late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Lions a first down on second-and-10. Stafford threw an interception trying to make a play down the field on third-and-10 the next play.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game his defense didn’t change their scheme up any from a first half when Stafford had 327 yards and two touchdowns to Calvin Johnson.

The Lions simply couldn’t execute in the last 30 minutes and that starts with the quarterback.

THE 97-YARD DRIVE

Let’s not forget the defense could have handled business with the Steelers backed up at their own 3-yard line after the failed fake field goal and couldn't do so.

There were three critical breakdowns on a drive that ultimately lasted 16 plays, took off over eight minutes of the clock, and culminated with the go-ahead touchdown.

The Lions had a chance to get off the field after just three plays and be in a position to give a short field back to the offense, but cornerback Chris Houston failed in his attempt to jam Steelers receiver Antonio Brown at the line of scrimmage on third-and-9 and the safety was a touch late coming over and the Steelers converted for 16 yards.

Later in the drive, the Steelers faced a third-and-12. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was allowed to scramble for 10 yards to set up a manageable fourth-and-2.

Roethlisberger connected with Le’Veon Bell for three yards in the flat on the fourth-down play.

The Steelers scored seven plays later on a 1-yard pass from Roethlisberger to a wide-open Will Johnson.

The defense had a chance to make a play, much like they did last week in Chicago, but this time, failed to do so.

WHERE’S THE RUSH?

Roethlisberger came into the game being sacked 35 times on the year. He was on pace to break his season-high of 50 sacks in 2009.

It should have been a field day for the Lions defensive line, right?

The Lions front four played very well against the run, but Big Ben was sacked just once and hit only one other time in 45 drop-backs.

Losing starting defensive end Jason Jones to a ruptured patellar tendon in Week 3 is turning out to be a huge loss for this team. It certainly didn’t help that Ziggy Ansah missed his second game in a row with an ankle injury.

The Lions’ inability to cover on the backend is allowing opposing offenses to dedicate more resources to slowing that defensive front and it’s been a successful recipe of late.

THE GOOD …

CALVIN JOHNSON’S FIRST HALF

It seems every week Johnson is breaking some kind of record.

This week, it was a record-setting first half. Johnson caught six passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns to help give the Lions a 27-20 lead at halftime. It’s the most receiving yards in a half of football in franchise history.

Johnson also set an NFL record for the most receiving yards in a four-game span with 746. He broke the previous record of 721 set by Houston’s Charlie Hennigan in 1961.

  • 155 yards vs. Cincinnati
  • 329 yards vs. Dallas
  • 83 yards at Chicago
  • 179 yards at Pittsburgh.

During the span, Johnson is averaging 186.5 yards per game.

It’s just too bad the Lions couldn’t get him the ball in the second half on Sunday. Johnson didn’t catch a pass in a second half that Lions get outscored 17-0.

RUN DEFENSE

Sunday marked the fourth consecutive game the Lions defense has not allowed a 50-yard rusher.

  • Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati, 27 yards
  • Joseph Randle, Dallas, 26 yards
  • Matt Forte, Chicago, 33 yards
  • Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh, 36 yards

The front seven has been very good limiting the rush.

The front four is doing a nice job of playing the run on the way to the quarterback, which isn’t something they haven’t always done in the past.

JOIQUE BELL

Reggie Bush had his worst game as a Lion (54 all-purpose yards) and was relegated to the bench late in Sunday’s game.

Bush had trouble cutting on the wet Heinz Field surface and fumbled the football in the second quarter that led to Steelers field goal.

As a result, backup Joique Bell got more work, and he was very good a relief role. Bell had 49 rushing yards on nine attempts and caught three passes for another 48 yards.

Bell is a no nonsense runner. He picks a hole and explodes through it, which was exactly what the Lions needed on that field against a defense that isn’t particularly good against the run. Bell is decisive when he runs and tough to bring down, both of which were a good combination for the Lions in Pittsburgh.