The Detroit Lions brought back for one half the high-flying offense that was the talk of the NFL for the first four weeks of the season.
Unfortunately, they also brought back the defense that has ranked at the bottom of the league since Week 1. And with the defense came the breakdowns along with the misfires that have been too much for them to overcome.
The result was another round of postgame what ifs after a 31-27 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field.
The Lions followed a familiar script. They played well for the first half, holding a 27-17 lead at halftime behind an offense that piled up 326 yards and 17 first downs.
The second half was another matter. The Lions had no answer for the Dolphins' high-speed receiving duo of Tyreek Hill and Jayden Waddle.
The Dolphins took over from the start of the second half, outscoring the Lions by 14-0.
"That was tough," said head coach Dan Campbell, whose postgame demeanor showed clearly that he has not gotten used to losing. "Defensively, we couldn't stop those receivers."
This week's Monday Countdown looks at defensive breakdowns that Campbell said the Dolphins took advantage of, running back Jamaal Williams' view of how the game turned around and a critical string of mistakes at the start of the second half that set the tone for the Dolphins to take over control of the game.
There are also takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.
We start with Campbell's view of the game plan.
1. Speed to burn: The Dolphins had it with Hill and Waddle, and they scorched the Lions with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dealing like a Vegas black jack dealer working with a deck of aces.
Out of 14 targets, Hill had 12 catches for 157 yards.
Waddle had eight catches out of nine targets for 106 yards and two TDs.
They weren't the only ones who benefitted from Tagovailoa's big day – 29 of 36 for 382 yards and three TDs – but they were the principal characters in the destruction of the Lions' defense.
The Lions had a plan to jam them at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the offense, but it was not executed, Campbell said.
"We didn't hit them," he said. "We didn't hit them at the line. It was part of the game plan. We didn't disrupt.
"We did not do well in the game plan. It was designed for these guys. They did exactly what we knew they would do. They just did. Over and over. They had their way."
2. Short circuited: The Lions played give and take with the Dolphins in the first half, and they had a 10-point lead to show for it.
The Lions had only three possessions in the second half, and it was give, give, give. The Lions took nothing out of it.
The Dolphins scored on their first possession to cut the Lions' lead to 27-24. The Lions had answered every threat and more by the Dolphins in the first half, and there was no reason to think they wouldn't do it again at the start of the second half.
Their first possession started with a string of penalties – a false start and holding on Penei Sewell, and a false start by Taylor Decker.
The Lions marched steadily backward.
What happened in the second half?
"False start, false start, false start," Campbell said. That had nothing to do with them. That's on us."
3. Turnaround: The Lions drove to a field goal on the final possession of the first half. They could have gotten more out of the possession, but wide receiver Josh Reynolds had a pass go through his hands in the end zone on the play before the field goal.
Williams had another productive game, rushing for 53 yards and two TDs. He never envisioned the Lions not scoring in the second half.
"No," he said. "We just didn't get on our roll again,"
4. Takeaways, offense:
- Deep ball: On the Lions' last play on fourth and one from Miami's 35, quarterback Jared Goff threw deep into the end zone to Reynolds rather than throw shorter and safer for a first down. It was part of the progression, Goff said. Campbell said he had no argument with Goff trying to make a play.
- Swift return: D'Andre Swift had limited action in his return. He had five carries for six yards, and five receptions for 27 yards and a TD.
- Going long – again: Tight end T.J. Hockenson broke another long reception, with a 58-yard catch and three catches overall for 76 yards.
5. Takeaways, defense:
- Air alert: The Lions gave up 27 first downs, with 18 of them passing. That's terrible, plain and simple.
- Sack time: The Lions had only two sacks, and none were from the defensive line. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and defensive back JuJu Hughes got the sacks.
- Rookie double: Safety Kerby Joseph, a third-round draft pick, and Rodriguez, a sixth-round pick, combined for a turnover in the first quarter. Joseph knocked the ball loose, and Rodriguez recovered it.
6. Takeaways, special teams:
- Leg work: Punter Jack fox had two punts for an average of 58.5 yards and a net of 46.5 Five of his six kickoffs went into the end zone for touchbacks. One was returned for 17 yards.
- On target: Kicker Michael Badgley made two more field goals, from 42 and 26 yards. He is now 4-4 as a Lion.
- Up: Rodriguez: He had a sack and a fumble recovery in addition to seven tackles, tied for second most on the team.
- Down: The Detroit Lions. A five-game losing streak is a group effort – players and coaches.
- Even: Amon-Ra St. Brown: Back to a regular role in the rotation, he had seven catches for 69 yards.
8. Bottom line: Of the Lions' seven losses, two have been by four points and three by three points. It's close, but it's still losing. There is no reward for it.