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NOTEBOOK: Defense takes a step back in second half of loss to Bengals

It was certainly a tale of two halves for the Detroit Lions' defense Sunday in their 34-11 loss to Cincinnati at Ford Field.

The Bengals can score quick with talented weapons like quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Joe Mixon and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but coming off arguably their best performance a week ago in Minnesota, Detroit's defense allowed just six Bengals first downs and 149 total scrimmage yards in the first 30 minutes Sunday. They also got a takeaway.  

"Thought we played a little defense early in that game first half, other than that shot play that we gave up," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "But we just we couldn't sustain."

When it was all said and done, Cincinnati had 398 yards of offense with 142 of those coming on the ground. The Bengals were better than 50 percent on third down (8-for-15), and they were perfect in the red zone (2-for-2).

"Just didn't seem like the same defense from the first half, I'm going to be honest," cornerback Amani Oruwariye said after the game. "We felt pretty good in the first half. Second half, we have to tackle better, run to the ball better and just all around have to be better."

Detroit's defense kept them in the game for a half, but Cincinnati scored on their first four possessions of the second half, three of those being touchdowns. It was some of the same issues that have plagued them in the past: Missed assignments, shaky tackling and technique issues.

Sunday's second half was probably the worst 30 minutes of football that side of the ball has played since Week 1 in the first half against San Francisco.

With the high-powered Los Angeles Rams up next, Detroit's defense has to make the right adjustments this week.


It was a peculiar play Sunday when Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball away on a 4th and 4 play in the second quarter at the Bengals' 38-yard line.

Goff rolled left, saw a holding call on left tackle Penei Sewell, and ended up just throwing the ball away. He explained after the game that it was a mental error on his part.

"I saw the holding call and had a complete lapse of judgement of, 'Okay, they are going to bring this ball back, so we are going to punt it anyways,' Goff said.

"Obviously, we needed a positive gain for that to happen, for them to accept the penalty and for us to move back. When I saw the holding call in the middle of the play, I figured it would be accepted, which it wouldn't be if I threw an incomplete pass. That was on me. Just thinking through that one the wrong way."


One of the few positives to come out of Sunday was Oruwariye recording his third interception of the season, which is not only a career high but leads the Lions' defense this season.

Oruwariye was in the right spot to haul in a Burrow throw that was too high for his intended target.

"Right place right time, man," Oruwariye said. "Just trying to make that turnover for our team whenever I can. When the ball is there, I've always tried to be that guy that can make the play."


  • Jack Fox punted six times for 333 yards (55.5 average, 47.8 net), pinning one inside the 20-yard line and booming a long of 64 yards.
  • It was not a bad game for second-year outside linebacker Julian Okwara, who finished with three solo tackles, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss and one sack, which was his first career sack.

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