FIRST DOWN: DOUBLE TIMEOUT EXPLAINED
Chicago faced a 3rd and 9 with just under two minutes left in the game at the Detroit 16-yard line and trailing 14-13 coming out of a Detroit timeout.
As the Bears were about to snap the ball on their 3rd and 9 play, Detroit's defense looked confused and was forced to call another timeout, which is a 5-yard penalty in the NFL.
"Obviously can't do that," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "But we had miscommunication. Half of our secondary had one call and half had the other. It was a check by what they were doing, so you don't get it until in the middle of the play, but it's something we had talked about. You don't get it pre snap. It's a call and it's got basically a check on it to what they're going to do and what they line up in offensively."
A blown coverage seemed imminent, and Campbell said the Bears were probably going to score a touchdown on the play had they not called the timeout.
"We were kind of in cover zero, and they went to max pro," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "We checked to two high, cover two. And that's kind of why I was trying to relay the call. After that, I'm not really sure what happened.
"I think that we called timeout, and I'm not sure if everyone was on the same page. It was still, I think, third down after that. Either way, the five-yard penalty wasn't that huge of a deal. Rather than a touchdown, that really put the game out of arm's reach."
The 3rd and 4 opened up the playbook for the Bears, and they converted a short slant for a 7-yard gain and a first down.
Chicago was able to kneel down and drain the clock to win, 16-14, on a walk-off field goal.
Asked if there was anything else he could have done other than call timeout, Campbell said: "Stand there and watch them score, I guess."
SECOND DOWN: TOO MANY HOLDS
Quarterback Jared Goff said he's never been a part of a game where the offense was flagged for six holding penalties like the Lions were Thursday against the Bears.
"Listen, they've got a job to do. Holding is a subjective call. We were getting them at a frequency I've never been a part of," Goff said after the game. "I could be wrong. I could go look at the film right now and be like, 'That's a hold. That's a hold. That's a hold.' I don't know. For the same guy to call it for both ways, I've never been a part of that."
Five of those holding calls were accepted by Chicago. Detroit's offense was also flagged for four false starts.
"The false starts are absolutely on us," Goff said. "Those can't happen. But you can call holding on every single play. Back there they can throw that flag on every play. To me, it seemed like it was a little too often on that call. Before even seeing the film, the frequency of that is not fair."
"I can't say I've been a part of it, but they called them and that's what matters," Decker said. "They were calling it on both teams, both sides of the ball. It just is what it is. If they interpret it a certain way and they call it, like, we held. It is what it is. It killed us, it was killer."
Twice the Lions faced 3rd and 30-plus-yard situations, in part, because of holding calls.
"Mistakes killed us," Campbell said. "Particularly offensively."
THIRD DOWN: LEARNING TO WIN
It's been almost a full calendar year since the Lions have won a football game – Week 13 of last season in Chicago on Dec. 6. Thursday's loss to Chicago dropped Detroit's record to 0-10-1, as the Lions remain the only winless team in the league.
The hard part for coaches, players and fans has been that this team has been in nine of their 11 contests. Thursday was the third walk-off loss to a field goal on the year. They seem so close, but still have to learn how to win these tight games.
"First you have to learn how not to lose and it's something that we've had a hard time doing obviously, especially in these close games," Goff said. "How do you take care of the football late in the game? How do you make stops on defense? How do you move the ball efficiently later in the game and not hurt yourself? For me, how do I stay in the pocket and not let those guys get moved off my spot and allow a holding call there in some instances?
"It's little things like that, that the good teams do and do consistently and something we're working towards, something we're on our way to I believe. But it's something that we're working towards."
Until Detroit learns how to stop hurting themselves with turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities, getting that elusive first win will remain difficult.
FOURTH DOWN: DEFENSIVE EFFORT
For 51 and a half minutes Thursday, Detroit's defense was terrific. They'd held the sixth-best rushing team in the league to under 60 yards on the ground and had given up just one touchdown and 13 points total.
Unfortunately, Chicago's final drive, a possession that lasted 18 plays, traveled 69 yards and killed the final eight minutes and 30 seconds off the clock to set up the winning field goal, puts a little bit of a bad mark on the overall performance of the defense. But make no mistake, Detroit's defense was the reason they were in a close ball game for a third straight week with a chance to win late.
It's the third straight week Detroit's held an opponent under 17 points, and yet all they have to show for it is a 0-2-1 record. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye recorded his fifth interception of the season, the defense's sixth takeaway in the last three weeks.
It was a tough final eight and a half minutes for the defense, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that they played pretty good all game and gave the Lions a chance to be in the game to the end yet again.