FOXBOROUGH – The Detroit Lions had at least been able to count on their No. 1 ranked offense to keep them in football games through the first month of the season heading into Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.
But even that side of the football let them down Sunday in a lopsided 29-0 loss to the Patriots. It's the first time the Lions have been held scoreless since falling to Carolina 20-0 in 2020.
Quarterback Jared Goff threw an interception at the Patriots' 3-yard line, had a fumble returned 59 yards for a touchdown and overall had his worst performance of the season as the Lions dropped their third straight game and now head to their bye week searching for answers at 1-4.
Turnovers, penalties and poor tackling plagued Detroit all afternoon. The Patriots were starting a rookie third-string quarterback in Bailey Zappe, but were able to support him by rushing for 176 yards and taking advantage of Lions mistakes.
Detroit was 0-for-6 on 4th down on the day, with five of those coming inside New England territory (32, 34, 5, 31, 18).
Detroit's offense came into the game averaging 35.0 points per game and 436.8 yards per contest, both tops in the league, but mustered just 312 yards against the Patriots, with a good chunk coming late after the game was already decided.
After the Lions didn't force a single punt in last week's loss to Seattle, New England didn't record their first punt until the fourth quarter. The Patriots recorded five field goals, a 24-yard touchdown pass from Zappe to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and the fumble return touchdown by safety Kyle Duggar.
QB comparison: Goff was harassed all afternoon by a very good New England defensive front. He finished just 19-of-35 passing for 229 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He finished with a 62.7 passer rating.
Zappe was extremely efficient for the Patriots, completing 17 of his 21 pass attempts for 188 yards with a touchdown, one interception (DeShon Elliott) and a 100.0 rating.
Key moment: The Lions faced a 3rd and 2 at the New England 25-yard line when running back Craig Reynolds was tackled for a 7-yard loss back to the 32-yard line. Instead of kicking a 49 or 50-yard field goal and attempting to trim the Patriots' 6-0 to 6-3, Campbell opted to go for it on 4th and 9.
Goff was sacked and fumbled on the fourth-down play. It was returned 59 yards for a touchdown by Dugger. Potentially a 6-3 score turned into 13-0 late in the second quarter, and the Lions never recovered.
Injury report: It was a scary moment early Sunday for Lions defensive back Saivion Smith, who suffered a neck injury on the second defensive play of the game. Making his first start in place of Elliott, Smith was injured while trying to jam Patriots tight end Hunter Henry. He was down on the field for some time before being placed on a stabilizing backboard and taken via ambulance to a local hospital. He was replace by Elliott.
Elliott left the game in the third quarter with cramps, but did return in the fourth quarter.
Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu also left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
Up next: Bye week