FIRST DOWN: TALE OF TWO HALVES
The Detroit Lions racked up 326 yards and scored on each of their five possessions (three touchdowns and two field goals) in the first half to help build a 27-17 halftime lead over Miami Sunday at Ford Field.
Detroit's offense looked to be back in the grove after struggling in their previous two games failing to score a touchdown against New England and Dallas.
But the good times didn't keeping rolling in the second half.
Penalties, drops and missed throws in the final 30 minutes all contributed to Detroit gaining just 67 yards in the second half in a 31-27 defeat.
"We took ourselves out of our own rhythm," head coach Dan Campbell said after the game.
Two false start penalties and a hold put the Lions in a 1st and 30 situation on their first possession of the second half. They ended up punting on that possession. They punted on their second possession after another false start put them behind the sticks to start the drive. They ended the game with a turnover on downs failing to convert on 4th and 2 on a bad throw by quarterback Jared Goff.
Miami didn't do anything different on defense in the second half. Detroit just couldn't get out of their own way.
View photos from the Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit Lions Week 8 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Oct. 30 in Detroit, MI.
SECOND DOWN: HILL AND WADDLE
The Lions talked all week about having to play physical against Miami's terrific receiving duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. They had to get their hands on both players at the line of scrimmage and within that 5-yard zone beyond the line of scrimmage to disrupt them.
None of that happened Sunday.
"Yeah we didn't hit them," Campbell said of Hill and Waddle. "We didn't hit them at the line. That was part of the game plan. We didn't disrupt. We did not disrupt, and when you let them do that and get into your defense, we didn't want to turn it into a track meet. And it was a track meet. Shoot man, (they) were what? 300 yards of offense? I don't know, somewhere in there, a little over 300. It's tough."
Hill led all receivers with 12 receptions on 14 targets for 188 yards. He averaged 15.7 yards per reception and was running free in Detroit's secondary all game long.
Waddle caught eight of his nine targets for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Detroit's defense had no answers for the two speedy receivers, and it seemed the most frustrated Campbell has been after a game with his players' failure to implement the game plan he and his coaches wanted on defense against those two receivers coming in.
THIRD DOWN: THIRD-DOWN DEFENSE
The Dolphins converted 8-of-12 tries on third down, including a few long ones that are typically back breakers for a defense.
At one point in the contest, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was 8-for-8 passing on third down for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Miami converted a 3rd and 13 twice. They notched a first down on a 3rd and 10 and twice got first downs on a 3rd and 6. Miami came into the game ranked 23rd in the NFL converting just 36.6 percent of their third downs. Their 66.6 percentage Sunday against the Lions was significantly better, and a big reason why they won the game.
"We teetered between pressure and coverage," Campbell said of Detroit's third-down defense. "The times we pressured he got it out. There again, we just didn't handle their speed well."
The Lions entered Sunday ranked 31st in the league in third-down defense (47.9). Sunday won't help those numbers.
FOURTH DOWN: CRITICAL PLAYS
Winning teams make plays in the critical moments.
Two plays in particular highlight the Lions' inability to make those plays that are the difference between winning and losing.
At the end of the first half, with Detroit ahead on the scoreboard 24-17 and driving, Goff threw a perfect pass to wide receiver Josh Reynolds in the end zone in the final seconds of the half that went right through Reynolds' hands and fell incomplete. The Lions were forced to kick a field goal to take a 27-17 lead, but it should have been 31-17. It was a missed opportunity.
Trailing 31-27 in the final minutes of the game, the Lions were driving in Dolphins territory at the Miami 36-yard line. They faced a 4th and 2 to keep the drive alive, but a deep shot from Goff to Reynolds was thrown inside when Reynolds had a step on the defender to the outside. Reynolds had to twist around and dive for the ball and it fell incomplete. Goff lamented that throw after the game. Again, a missed opportunity.
"I think when we get those opportunities, we have to not press to try to make a play," left tackle Taylor Decker said after the game. "We literally just have to do our jobs like we did in the first half, and everything takes care of itself, everything is smooth. You don't want guys that are too amped up to try to do something extra because usually when you try to do something extra is when bad stuff happens. We just have to play a complete game. We have to play for 60."