The Detroit Lions lost for the third time this season Sunday.
The Lions lost on a last-second field goal from a first-place team that will likely represent the AFC in the playoffs. Let’s keep that in mind as we take one last look back at the good and the bad from the 27-24 loss.
The Bengals executed and made the plays to win the game like playoff teams do. The Lions couldn't make that one play late in the game, whether it was during the final offensive drive, the
It was a total team loss for the Lions.
Here’s a look at the good and the bad from Sunday.
THE BAD …
WHERE’S THE RUSH?
For a quarterback on the road in a hostile environment, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton looked pretty comfortable.
Dalton had a nice pocket for most of the game, and when Cincinnati decided to get him out of the pocket, there wasn’t much resistance for the Lions defense.
Dalton completed 71 percent of his passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Some of the blame certainly belongs to a Lions secondary that did not play well, but the blame should fall equally with the defensive line.
Sack totals aren’t always an accurate depiction of pressure. An interception set up by a quarterback trying to avoid the rush doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but we’d all agree that’s a big play. Unfortunately, the Lions didn’t have either vs. Cincinnati.
Dalton was sacked once and hit three times. The sack was a huge play by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh late in the game, but the Lions couldn’t capitalize on it. Other than that, Dalton had free reign to scan the field and find open receivers.
For a defense that relies so heavily on it’s front four, Sunday’s performance wasn’t nearly good enough.
WHERE’S THE RUSH? (PART TWO)
Lions running back
Bush’s longest run of the day was just seven yards.
The Lions failed to utilized Bush's speed to get outside the tackles and in space. Too many times it seemed they pounded him into the middle of the strength of that defense. Where was the versatility in the run game?
The offense made up for the lack of a run game by throwing for 357 yards, but they’ve been at their best this year when they’ve had the threat of both.
In their four wins, they've averaged 114 rushing yards per game.
In their three losses, they’ve averaged just 63.
NOT SO SPECIAL, SPECIAL TEAMS
The Lions have been much improved on special teams this year, but that certainly wasn’t on display against the Bengals.
They had a field goal blocked at the end of the first half and didn’t execute a punt at the end of the game. Both plays cost them dearly.
The other play was the now well-documented 28-yard punt from Sam Martin from the Lions 23-yard line that set the Bengals up near midfield and allowed them to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
When it comes to special teams, the Lions philosophy is that they don’t want them to put the offense or defense in a bad spot.
They played a big part in the loss Sunday.
THE GOOD …
Johnson had one of the finer catches of the NFL season over three Bengals in the fourth quarter for a 50-yard touchdown.
He also recorded a 27-yard touchdown on a terrific back-shoulder-throw-and-catch from quarterback
All told, Johnson finished with nine catches for 155 yards and those two scores on 15 targets.
Johnson made five catches of 15-plus yards in the game and nearly missed pulling down another 19-yard catch along the sideline that was reviewed and overturned.
The Bengals made a concerted effort to stop the Lions rushing attack. Johnson’s return to health allowed Detroit to make them pay with a vertical passing game.
He’s got good size at 6-foot-6 and is becoming a nice possession option for Stafford, who’s been throwing to Durham since their days at Georgia.
Durham has 13 catches for 124 yards over the last two weeks.
The Lions also got contributions from
SUH KEEPS IT GOING
In a game that didn’t see too many big plays on defense for the Lions, leave to Suh to do his part.
Suh’s sack on Andy Dalton with 1:52 remaining on a third-and-6 play gave the ball back to Stafford and Co. with 1:43 remaining and a chance to win the game. It was the only sack of the game for the Lions and came at a huge moment.
Suh finished with three tackles, a sack, a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hit.
He has 3.5 sacks on the season and need four more to set the franchise record for a defensive tackle (Shaun Rogers, 29)
It's too bad Suh didn’t get more help from his teammates on Sunday.