Trailing 32-18 early in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th and 4 at their own 31-yard line, Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell dialed up a direct-snap fake punt to safety C.J. Moore that fell a half-yard short of the line to gain.
On replay, it looked like Moore might have reached out and gotten the ball to the 35-yard line, which was the line to gain, but it was close. The ball was called short on the field. Tennessee would score seven plays later to put the game away.
After the game, Bevell said he didn't challenge the spot because he relied on his eyes in the sky – the coaches in the box – who told him it was a challenge he wasn't likely to win.
"We did consider the challenge," Bevell said after the game. "Up in the booth are really my eyes and the guys upstairs – I think we have a good line of communication and do a good job with that – the views that we had really were inconclusive. There were three shots we ended up having, two of the shots clearly looked short and the other one looked close."
View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Tennessee Titans Week 15 game in Nashville on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.
Bevell said normally those line-to-gain plays are hard challenges to win, and he's right. From the views the Lions had, it didn't look like they'd win the challenge, and that's why Bevell didn't throw the red flag. He thought it was more important to keep the timeouts.
Bevell said he considered keeping the offense on the field to go for it, but liked some of the fakes they have on the punt unit and saw a good look on that particular play. It just happened to come up a half-yard short.
It was good to see undrafted rookie tight end Hunter Bryant make a big play in the game. It's been a long season for Bryant, who was terrific the first week of training camp, but then suffered a hamstring injury, followed by a concussion, and is just now getting a chance to make an impact.
Bryant showed Sunday why the Lions kept him on the 53-man roster when he got behind the Titans' defense for a 44-yard reception in the first half. It was Bryant's first catch as a Lion.
It's been a tough year for the Lions on the injury front, but for offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, it's been particularly tough.
One of Detroit's big free-agent signings this offseason, Vaitai suffered a foot injury a week prior to the start of the season that prevented him from playing in the first two games of the year. When he returned, he wasn't 100 percent, and would land on IR because of the injury after playing Week 11 in Carolina.
Vaitai was just activated to the 53-man roster on Saturday. He left Sunday's game in the first half to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return to the game.
It was a light day for both punters Sunday. Tennessee punted just once all game. The Titans scored on seven of their nine possession in the game.
Detroit's Jack Fox punted just once too (for 36 yards), but three Detroit turnovers played a role in that.