DENVER – Lions-Broncos Burning Questions: An early lead for the Detroit Lions, a late rally for the Denver Broncos, Kerryon Johnson back for the Lions and other issues in the Lions' 27-17 loss Sunday.
Question: What made the difference in the 13th game the Lions had the lead in?
Answer: The simple answer is they couldn't hold leads – 10-0 to start the game and 17-13 that the Broncos overcame with two long drives to fourth-quarter touchdowns.
The Lions have lacked firepower on offense since the eighth game, when Matthew Stafford went out for the season with back and hip injuries. The Lions have not had a big-play defense that creates turnovers, and an offense that doesn't generate touchdowns makes the situation worse.
Sunday's game was another example of that. Give the Lions credit for coming out and getting the lead. They just don't have enough to hold on to those leads.
Q. Kerryon Johnson: How did he play in his first game in more than two months?
A. There was a lot of speculation about whether he should play after missing eight games with a knee injury. I thought it was OK to play him. It was a decent performance –- 10 carries for 42 yards.
He looks like he can contribute next year. Mission accomplished Sunday in that regard.
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos Week 16 game at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 in Denver.
Q. Lions' opener: Did it mean anything that they drove to a field goal and a 3-0 lead on the opening possession?
A. It wasn't exactly "stop the presses, Lions score!!!!" but at least it showed they were into the game on offense. That was unlike last week's loss to the Bucs, when the Lions got the ball in Bucs' territory on an interception and went backward and failed to score. They fell behind, 21-0, in that game.
It didn't last long, but it was a start they could have built on.
Q. Agnew strikes again: What did it mean for the Lions to get a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown from Jamal Agnew early in the second quarter?
A. What it did to the score was obvious. It gave the Lions a 10-0 lead at a time when the Broncos' offense was being stymied. The Lions have been sporadic on special teams for most of the season. Agnew's return provided a lift for a team that wanted to end a losing streak.
Q. Flash back: Any thoughts on Agnew's TD return to how he gave the Lions a spark with a kickoff return in the win over the Eagles early in the season?
A. Yes. It turned the momentum back to the Lions in that game. The return against the Broncos gave the Lions a cushion – and the defense had a chance to protect it.
Q. Bronco answer: Was it a surprise that the Broncos rallied after Agnew's TD and drove 75 yards to a touchdown to make it 10-7?
A. It was more disappointing than surprising. The defense has had trouble making plays all season because of the the lack of a pass rush. The Broncos started the possession with an 11-yard run – plus five yards on a penalty against the Lions – and then ended it with a one-yard TD run.
In between, Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock shredded the Lions' secondary with his arm.
Q. Momentum shift: It was 10-10 at halftime, but did it look like the Broncos had taken control – and why?
A. The first answer is yes, it looked like the Broncos had taken control because they had. They scored a touchdown and field goal on their last two possessions. And the Lions' offense didn't do anything after getting a field goal on its first possession.
The Broncos had a 12-5 advantage in first downs, and the Lions had only two first downs after their first possession.
The Lions were tied and had to do something in the second half to swing the momentum back their way and end the losing streak.
Q. Broncos—Lions, second half start: What did the exchange of a field goal for the Broncos and a touchdown for the Lions mean to start the second half?
A. The Lions won the exchange. They clamped down to force the Broncos to settle for a field goal on their first possession and came back to take the lead with a long TD drive for a 17-13 lead.
It remained that way going into the fourth quarter.
The question for the Lions was if they could reverse recent form and hold the lead.