Someday the Detroit Lions may look back on a game or a series of plays as the time in their development where they became a team that grabs opportunities that are presented to them and became winners.
Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings was not one of those days.
The Lions did everything they should have needed to do to win the game but topped that by doing even more to lose it.
The Vikings scored two touchdowns in the final 7:50, with the game-winner coming on K.J. Osborn's 28-yard catch with 45 seconds left.
This week's Monday Countdown looks at some controversial strategies, what the Lions did well but did not get rewarded for, takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending with the Lions and the bottom line.
We start with quarterback Jared Goff's take on what the loss means to the Lions.
1. Reality Check: Winning and losing, above all else, defines a team and its players individually.
The Lions should have won that game. They had a 14-0 lead in the first half that became a 14-14 tie. And they had a 24-14 lead that in the fourth quarter that became a 28-24 loss.
In his postgame interview, Goff talked about the narrow margin the separates winning from losing. The Lions' two losses were close – 38-35 to the Eagles in the opener, and Sunday's 28-24 loss in Minnesota.
"We had two chances today to put them away, and we didn't," Goff said. "You need to take advantage of it, and we didn't.
"The idea that we're getting close – yeah, we're getting better and close to winning. Our offense played well. Our defense played well. We just have to finish.
"We have to make two or three plays to finish the games. We have the guys who can do it. We have the coaches who can do it.
"We just need to do it."
2. Strategy, fourth and go: Head coach Dan Campbell was bold in his strategic decisions to -- well, almost the end.
The Lions faced fourth and five on Minnesota's 32 on their second possession.
It was a great start to the game.
That was a tone-setter for the game. The Lions went for it on fourth down and converted first downs four times.
3. Strategy, fourth and no go: The Lions had fourth and four at Minnesota's 36 with 1:14 left. A first down would have iced the game. Instead, Austin Seibert was sent out to attempt a 54-yard field goal. He already missed once from 48 yards.
The 54-yarder wobbled wide right.
Even if the kick was good it would not have closed out the game. It gave the Lions a six-point lead. Osborn's TD catch would have given the Vikings a 28-27 win.
4. Takeaways, offense:
- On the run: It was good for a third straight game – 139 yards with Williams leading the way with 87 yards and two TDs.
- Connection: Wide receiver Josh Reynolds' connection with Goff from their days together with the Rams was one reason the Lions claimed Reynolds when he became available. Reynolds led the Lions with 96 yards on six catches.
- Up front: Throwing the ball on a third and one instead of running could not have sat well with the offensive line. It's the Lions' best unit, and that was a time to use it.
- Penalties: Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was flagged six times. One of the five was waved off because of a completion that gained more yards than the penalty would have.
- Coverage: Cornerback Jeff Okudah has played in the first three games the way that was expected when the Lions drafted him third overall in 2020. He spent a lot of the day covering Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who managed just three catches for 14 yards.
- Sack time: Linebacker Alex Anzalone had the Lions' only sack. He also led the Lions with 10 tackles and two quarterback hits on Kirk Cousins.
6. Takeaways, special teams:
- Not one of the better days for punter Jack Fox – 44.7 yards with a 38 yard net on three punts.
- Same for Seibert. Two missed field goals in three attempts.
- Up: Williams, with 87 yards rushing, 4.4 yards per carry and two TDs.
- Down: Defense. Osborn had back to back catches of 28 yards on Minnesota's three-play drive to win the game.
- Even: Offensive line. It's steady and it's good – steadily good.
8. Bottom line: Winning on the road is precious in the NFL. When it's against a division rival, it's doubly precious. What the Lions had in their hands Sunday was priceless.