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NOTEBOOK: Lions explain onside kick attempts

Lions head coach Matt Patricia made a bold call in the third quarter of Sunday’s 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. He hoped it would be one of those momentum-changing calls to help spur his team to victory.

Trailing 13-6 with 8:01 left in the quarter, Patricia called for an onside kick. While bold, it looked to be a great call, taking the Rams’ special teams by surprise. The only problem was punter Sam Martin clipped the tee on the way through and failed to kick the ball the required 10 yards before a Lions player could touch it.

“Basically, I’ve got to have that, I’ve got to hit that kick,” Martin said. “No matter how hard or easy it is. I got to deliver there, and I just didn’t, so it’s unfortunate.”

It certainly had the potential to be a momentum-turning play had the Lions recovered. They’d just kicked a 29-yard field goal, and tacking on a touchdown could have tied the game. Instead, given a short field, the Rams added on a field goal and increased their lead to 16-6.

“No matter how hard or easy it is, it’s a kick I work on, it’s a kick I’ve got to do and you know, I just fell on the tee there and it didn’t go as far, as deep as I’d liked it to,” Martin said. “That sucks.”

SECOND ONSIDE KICK

Trailing 23-16 with 2 minutes and 57 seconds left in the game, Patricia decided to go for another onside kick instead of trying to kick the ball deep in hopes of using three timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the Rams' offense and pin them deep.

Patricia explained the reason behind that decision after the game.

“They’re one of the best four-minute teams in the league,” he said of the Rams. “So, with the timeouts that we had, I think it was 2:54 left on the clock, go for the onside, either way we have to stop them, right? If they get two first downs, game’s over, doesn’t matter.

“So, we have to stop them in that situation and try to hold them, and (we) really thought it was the best opportunity for us to get a chance to get the ball back. We had some good things, we thought, set up for it, and we just have to go out and execute.”

The Rams recovered the onside kick and went on to score a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining to ice the game.

“In that situation, I would say, with 2:54 left on the clock with as many players as they have on offense, and how good they’ve been in that situation so far this year, two or three first downs ends the game. So, midfield or backed up, we were just trying to get the ball back.”

INJURY REPORT

Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard was the team’s sack leader entering Sunday's game against the Rams with a career high 6.0 sacks through the team’s first 11 games. Kennard went down with what the team described as a hip injury in the first half and didn’t return to the game.

Veteran Eli Harold filled in for Kennard, and finished the game with two tackles and a sack.

SUH HIT

Former Lion and current Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty on Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter Sunday. Suh pushed Stafford with two hands late after he released the ball. Suh didn’t have any good things to say about Stafford leading up the game, and was asked about the hit after the game.

“It’s always good and it’s been a long time coming,” Suh said. “I’ve seen him a ton of times in practice, I had an opportunity to be on the other side of the ball and get after him.

“We have mutual respect for each other. At the end of the day, he is a competitor and I am a competitor, I want to win and we got the win.”

DEFENSIVE EFFORT

The Lions’ defense played much better than the final score would indicate. Paving the way were safety Quandre Diggs and defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

Diggs recorded his second interception of the year and had six tackles – a few of them huge hits – and also defended two passes.

Harrison led the Lions with seven tackles and his fourth sack since joining the team via trade with the Giants last month. He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Harrison has easily been Detroit’s best player on defense since his arrival, and a player the Lions can certainly build around this offseason.

EXTRA POINTS

  • The Lions had given up 148 rushing yards combined in their last three games coming into Sunday. The Rams got them for 149 (5.1 average) and a couple scores.
  • The Lions had trouble sustaining drives all game. They finished just 2-of-12 on third down.

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