CLEVELAND – Tim Boyle said the opportunity to start an NFL game was a tremendous opportunity, but he needed to make more plays to help the Detroit Lions come away with their first victory of the season.
"Overall good experience," Boyle said after Detroit's 13-10 loss to the Browns Sunday. "But at the end of the day didn't play well enough to win and that ultimately falls on me. A lot of room to grow in that department."
Boyle threw two interceptions and completed 15-of-23 passes for 77 yards, though he did settle into the game and play better in the second half, completing 8-of-10 passes.
Boyle's career path to the NFL has been a terrific story of perseverance. He threw 12 touchdowns vs. 26 interceptions in college, but still found his way to the NFL and was a backup in Green Bay the last three years before signing with Detroit this offseason.
He broke his thumb in the final preseason game and was on IR until just last week. He started today in place of the injured Jared Goff, who missed his first game of the season with a strained oblique suffered last week in Pittsburgh.
It's unclear if Goff will be ready for the quick turnaround the Lions face this week playing Thursday on Thanksgiving. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said if Goff is healthy, he's the starter.
"He was solid," Campbell said of Boyle's performance after the game. "He ran the offense. We had no communication errors. He was efficient. Look, he was a little rusty. A couple of those throws. He and (D’Andre) Swift weren't on the same page on the first interception.
"Look, I wanted to be smart too. I didn't want to throw this kid to the wolves. That's not fair to him, either."
That's certainly fair given the circumstance, the weather and the opposing defense, but what we've seen from Detroit's passing game the last two weeks can't continue.
In the last two weeks combined between Goff playing injured and Boyle starting, the Lions have just 191 passing yards and no touchdowns. That's simply not good enough to be efficient on offense.
The Lions haven't scored more than 20 points in a game Since Week 1.
"I mean look, it's no secret that we need to be better in the passing game," Campbell said.
It didn't end the way the Lions wanted with their defense failing to stop the Browns and get off the field in the final two minutes, but for 58 minutes Sunday it was another pretty good performance by Detroit's defense.
"I thought our defense played their hearts out, man," Campbell said. "Played lights out. Kept us in it. We controlled (Browns running back Nick) Chubb, just like we said we needed to, and they gave us a chance there."
When a team is 0-9-1 like the Lions are, there isn't anything they can really hang their hat on, but the defense has played well enough to win games this year, Sunday included.
Sunday was the fourth time the Lions held an opponent under 20 points this season. Cleveland rushed for 184 yards, but it seemed like they really had to work for everything they got.
The Lions lost starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a concussion in the first quarter Sunday and he did not return. It's certainly something to monitor this week with the team on a short week. Hopefully there's enough time for him to advance through the return-to-play concussion protocols in time for Thursday.
Detroit's really been banged up along their offensive line this year, a unit that was supposed to be their strength coming into the season, but they never got to play their five starters together in any contest. Left tackle Taylor Decker missed the first eight games and Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow's season ended early due to a toe injury.
- Lions punter Jack Fox reached his 100th career punt Sunday. He's averaged 49.0 yards and 43.9 net yards per punt on those 100. Both marks are the highest an NFL punter has ever had through his first 100 career punts.
- The Lions were just 3-of-11 converting on third down and didn't reach the red zone once.