FIRST DOWN: FINAL OFFENSIVE PLAY
It’s a play quarterback Matthew Stafford said the Lions have practiced often in goal line situations and had trust it would work in the most critical situation Sunday in Oakland.
Facing 4th and goal from the 1-yard line with eight seconds left in the game and trailing by a touchdown, Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell dialed up a goal-line package play-action pass that resulted in a one-on-one situation between Lions tight end Logan Thomas and Raiders safety Karl Joseph in the back of the end zone.
“They’re in goal line defense and we’re in goal line offense, we’re a yard away from the end line, it was a play we worked on quite a bit, and they defended it well,” Stafford said.
Joseph was able to knock the ball away from Thomas in the back of the end zone, preserving Oakland’s 31-24 victory. As the ball fell to the turf, the Lions fell to 3-4-1 on the season, and have now put themselves behind at the midway point of the season in the NFC.
When a play doesn’t work it always gets second guessed postgame. Stafford was asked why wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., or some of Detroit’s other playmakers on the outside, weren’t on the field for the game's most critical play.
“We’re on the 1-yard line. That’s the plays we run in practice all the time from the one and the two,” Stafford said. “That’s one of them. It didn’t work. We didn’t convert. We didn’t score. We didn’t win the game.
“So, you can look at it all you want from that perspective. Had we scored there, I wouldn’t be fielding these questions, so we just have to execute the play better and score.”
SECOND DOWN: MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Detroit had a rare opportunity Sunday to make ground on the rest of the NFC North.
First place Green Bay fell to 7-2 on the year with a 26-11 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Minnesota, who entered Sunday in second place in the division, lost in Kansas City, 26-23, on a last second field goal to fall to 6-3 on the year.
Chicago came into Sunday in last place and lost their fourth straight, a 22-14 loss to Philadelphia, to fall to 3-5.
Detroit’s 31-24 defeat at the hands of the Raiders made the NFC North 0-for-4 on the day.
At 3-4-1, the Lions had a great chance to gain ground on both the Packers and Vikings in the NFC North, but they came up one yard short.
THIRD DOWN: DEFENSE TAKES BLAME
The Raiders racked up 450 total yards, 30 points, 25 first downs and 171 yards on the ground.
A Detroit defense that entered Sunday second to last in the NFL in total defense (420.4 ypg) simply wasn’t good enough.
“I take it hard just because I feel like the offense is really clicking and playing well enough for us to win and we’re not holding up our end of the bargain on defense,” linebacker Devon Kennard said.
It’s been a tough start to the season for a Detroit defense that didn’t enter Sunday’s contest ranked higher than 26th in any major statistical category.
The reasons for their inconsistent play are plenty, and neither the coaches or players seem to have an answer on how to fix it.
The defense has been the biggest issue this season, no-doubt, but Stafford wasn’t going to stand in front of his locker after the game and let the defense be the scapegoat.
“(Kennard) is a great guy and a great leader for that defense, but the fact of the matter is that’s not the truth,” he said. “We all have to play better. It’s everybody. We’re a team. Football is a team sport and a team game.
“There were plenty of plays out there that I missed that could have helped us with the game. Stuff that we all have to live with.”
Both Kennard and Stafford are right, but it’s hard to ignore just how difficult a time the defense is having through eight games.
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders Week 9 game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 in Oakland, Calif.
FOURTH DOWN: RUN DEFENSE
The statistics aren’t pretty for the Lions when it comes to their run defense, and it seems no matter what they do, they can’t seem to solve the problem.
Detroit entered the game ranked 26th in the league against the run, allowing just over 130 yards per game. That number is about to go up after Oakland put 171 rushing yards on them, with rookie Josh Jacobs accounting for 120 of those with two touchdowns.
In six of their eight games this season, opponents have rushed for more than 120 yards on the Lions' defense. In three of the last four, opponents have gone for better than 160 yards.
What is the issue the Lions can’t seem to fix?
“There’s a lot, obviously,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. “Obviously, we have to coach it to be more consistent with all of it.”
By that Patricia means the run fits, tackling, edge play and most importantly fundamentals.
“It’s all a situation when the offense is doing things they want to do, and you can’t defend it the way you want to defend it, it’s frustrating for everybody – players and coaches,” Patricia said. “That’s stuff that we understand. Again, give them credit, they out-executed us from that standpoint.”
Next up for Detroit’s defense is Chicago on the road. The Bears' rushing offense ranks 27th in the league (80.5).