Golden Tate coming up a half yard short of a game-winning touchdown will be the play most remembered from Detroit's 30-26 loss to Atlanta, but it didn't have to get to that point if Detroit had taken advantage of some earlier opportunities.
Detroit was just 1-for-3 in the red zone and 3-for-13 on third down in the contest.
"We have to convert a little more on third down early and when our defense gets us turnovers we have to put some points on the board," quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
Darius Slay came up with a huge interception at the Lions 8-yard line midway through the fourth quarter that he brought out to the Lions 45. Detroit could only get four yards in three plays, and had to punt it back to Atlanta.
Detroit's defense then forced a punt on the following Falcons possession. The Lions got pretty good field position at their 31-yard line. Again, another three and out for the offense. The Lions scored just one offensive touchdown in the game, having to settle for four Matt Prater field goals.
"Man, it could have been a way different game," Stafford admitted after the game. "We had opportunities and we just didn't capitalize. Too many field goals for us, not enough touchdowns and ultimately not a touchdown at the end."
Eric Ebron does a lot of impressive things on the football field physically, but drops continue to be a problem for him. He had two of them in the fourth quarter Sunday. He was targeted seven times in the game and had just two catches for nine yards.
Ebron led the team with seven drops last season.
To Ebron's credit, he did take responsibility for the poor performance after the game by Tweeting:
"Poor performance by me. I have to learn how to deal with adversity throughout the game. I'll be on my grind all week see y'all next week."
Stafford was asked about Ebron's two key drops in the fourth quarter, and said he didn't lose confidence in Ebron.
"He'll bounce back and play better next week," Stafford said.
The Lions will certainly need him to against a very tough Minnesota defense.
SHOW OF UNITY
The Lions locked arms for the national anthem, with team owner Martha Firestone Ford right there with her team, in a show of unity to some disparaging remarks President Donald Trump made about NFL players' rights to free speech and protest.
Eight Lions players – Ameer Abdullah, Tahir Whitehead, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Akeem Spence, Cornelius Washington, Steve Longa, A'Shawn Robinson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin – knelt for the national anthem. Ebron hung back from his teammates locked in arms.
"I've been in this league a little while and I know the players in this league," Caldwell said. "There are no SOB's in this league (referring to Trump calling calling players who protest SOB's). These are men that work hard, have integrity, involved in our communities. Our guys, just like anything else, we believe in unity and civility and also first amendment rights to peaceful expression and freedom of speech."