FIRST DOWN: GUT PUNCH
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff has played a lot of football, and in all that time he can't recall having a game end like Sunday's 19-17 loss to Baltimore on a 66-yard field goal from Ravens kicker Justin Tucker as time expired.
The now NFL record for longest kick ever made hit the crossbar and bounced through to give Baltimore an improbable victory, dropping the Lions to 0-3 to start the year.
"About as big a gut punch as I've ever been a part of," Goff said after the loss. "I guess I'll start this off by saying this team and this city have been through a lot, obviously, in recent years and has had these gut punches. For me personally, this is the hardest one I've been a part of."
The loss comes after Detroit failed to play a consistent 60 minutes of football for the third straight contest.
Still, Detroit battled back and showed some grit taking a late lead, but fell just about a foot short.
"It was there," Goff said. "It's was really there at the end. All I'm saying is we will remain true and remain resilient and the gut punches will stop."
SECOND DOWN: DEFENSIVE GAME PLAN
Credit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn for the game plan and the players for the execution of the plan, for the way they were able to bottle up Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson for most of the game Sunday and make him beat them with his arm.
After rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns last week in the win over Kansas City, Jackson had just 58 rushing yards Sunday on seven carries. He was sacked four times as the Lions made a concerted effort to contain him and make him a passer. He completed 16-of-31 passes for 287 yards with a touchdown and interception, though he did have a couple deep balls dropped that could have added to those totals.
Still, it was a pretty good job by the Lions executing the game plan.
"Just try to stop his feet," said Lions outside linebacker Charles Harris after the game. "Get (him) into tough situations and make him throw the ball."
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game he thought it was the best performance by his defense this season, and though it certainly wasn't perfect, it's hard to argue that the plan and execution were pretty good for the most part.
THIRD DOWN: GROWING PAINS
Young football teams make mistakes, and that's what this young Lions football team is experiencing early on. Campbell mentioned communication errors a couple times in his postgame press conference leading to big plays or big opportunities for Baltimore.
None bigger than the 36-yard completion by the Ravens on a 4th and 19 play with under 30 seconds left in the game and the Lions leading 17-16. Campbell said a communication error led to Ravens wide receiver Sammy Watkins being wide open on the play to set up a chance for Tucker to make the 66 yarder.
"We do have growing pains," Campbell said. "There's things we need to continue to work at and work out the kinks and grow from this and learn from this.
"I think if you really want a sharpened sword, you want something elite, man you have to put it under a lot of heat and a lot of pressure and that's what we're under right now. I think that we're going to come out the other end pretty good out of this. We just can't get discouraged and we can't stop continuing to believe and fight."
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Ravens Week 3 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Sept. 26 in Detroit, MI.
FOURTH DOWN: EVERY PLAY COUNTS
There will be a ton of talk Monday about the 4th and 19 conversion for Baltimore late in the game, and the potentially missed delay of game penalty before Tucker's last field-goal attempt, but Campbell said after the game that his players have to understand how plays early in the game affect plays late in the game.
One big one that went against the Lions in the second quarter was a fumbled punt return by Baltimore that was recovered by Lions safety Dean Marlowe at the Ravens' 16-yard line when the Lions were down just 3-0. It was called back due to penalty.
Rookie gunner Jerry Jacobs was flagged for running out of bounds and not trying to get back into play quick enough. It's a five-yard penalty, and the Lions had to punt over again. Instead of 1st and 10 at Baltimore's 16 with at the very least a chip-shot field goal coming up, the Ravens got the ball back and marched down the field in eight plays to score a touchdown and take a 10-0 lead.
A little thing like a five-yard penalty in the first half can alter the outcome, and that's something Campbell is trying to teach to his young team.
"The bottom line we talk about all the time, but you have no idea what that play in the first quarter can do when you're sitting there at the end of the fourth quarter for the win," he said. "So every play counts, man. Every opportunity counts. Every drive counts. You can get three more points in the first half or you get one more stop in the first half, it makes all the difference."