After another close loss of one score or less Thursday to the Bears, 24-20, Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game that somehow and some way this team needs to find a way to break through and find a way to win some of these close games.
“Our team is one of the toughest teams that I’ve probably ever been around,” Patricia said. “This team fights probably like no other team that I’ve ever seen. We have to find a way to win and we have to find a way to kind of break through that thing that’s stopping us right now and smash that, so we can get this thing going.”
The Lions have led in every game they’ve played this year, yet sit at 3-8-1 and in last place in the NFC North.
Putting his finger on exactly what that thing that’s preventing Detroit from winning close games is has been difficult.
The tangible things are obviously cleaning up the mistakes late in games, which showed up again Thursday, whether it be penalties, physical mistakes or missed assignments.
Patricia said players need to step up and make a couple more plays, and coaches have to teach things better to get the mistakes cleaned up.
“I think it’s just that situation where we get one of those and that happens, and the confidence that comes with it and all of that, that takes off,” Patricia said.
“I’ve been around a lot of teams, been around a lot of great teams, and I certainly know in all of those teams there is usually something that helps kind of break that and build the confidence, and we just haven’t really had it yet, and we’re still pushing to get it.”
The Lions have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after Thursday's loss, and now have one more month to try and find a way to break through at the end of games and attempt to build some of that confidence up to finish the season.
MCKISSIC ON 3RD AND 1
Early in the fourth quarter with the game tied 17-17, the Lions faced a 3rd and 1 at the Chicago 5-yard line. The Lions ran J.D. McKissic on a run to the right. He was tackled for no gain, forcing Detroit to kick a short field goal to take a 20-17 lead.
Why not run the bigger and more physical Bo Scarbrough, who was having another fine game in the backfield for Detroit (83 yards on 21 attempts)?
“Well, there was a penalty (defensive offside) the play before that, right? So, there was a situation where we trying to figure out exactly what the third down down-and-distance was, so we had the personnel out because the clock was running, and they were trying to figure out the spot and everything like that,” Patricia said.
“Once we got all of that organized and saw what it was, we didn’t want to sub late.”
Patricia said he still had a lot of confidence McKissic could pick up the yard.
“The clock was moving, and we were waiting for them to get it spotted and then made the decision once we headed out there,” Patricia said. “It was like, ‘We have a good personnel group out there, let’s go.’"
A pretty meaningless 1-yard reception in the final minute of the game along the left sideline might have been costly for the Lions' offense.
It was a pass from David Blough to rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, whose leg looked to get caught under him when he was tackled by Bears linebacker Roquan Smith.
Doctors and trainers attended to Hockenson on the sideline, looking at his lower body. Detroit never announced an injury update for Hockenson since the injury occurred so late in the game.
He was spotted on crutches after the game.
View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears Week 13 game at Ford Field on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019 in Detroit.