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TIM AND MIKE: Week 16 observations

One game left: The disappointment of missing the playoffs will certainly linger in Detroit, but Lions players and coaches can't let it linger too long. They still have one more game to play. The Lions still have an opportunity to finish 9-7 with a win over Green Bay at Ford Field next Sunday. That may be a consolation to most Lions fans, but players and coaches will be evaluated on how this thing finishes. Not showing up Sunday against a division opponent at home would be a very bad look for these Lions. – *Tim Twentyman


Feel good, to feel bad: For a few minutes rookie running back Tion Green looked like he would provide one of the feel-good stories of Sunday's game for the Lions. He exploded up the middle for 12 yards on a vital fourth and one in the fourth quarter and finished off the possession with a five-yard TD run for a 17-16 Lions lead. Since he played at the University of Cincinnati, he could have been the Cincinnati Kid for a day – if only the Lions had hung on to win. –Mike O'Hara

Bad penalties: There are penalties, and then there are penalties in inopportune times that end up killing a team's chances for success. The Lions were flagged for nine penalties for 74 yards in Sunday's 26-17 loss to the Bengals, but five of those came in the fourth quarter at really crucial times. A false start on a 4th and 1 (though a running into the kicker made up for it). Defensive holding on 3rd and 12. Offensive holding on 2nd and 13 trailing 19-17. Jumping offside on a 1st and 10 at the Lions 40-yard line needing to get off the field late on defense. Those are killer penalties. – Tim Twentyman

Triple threat: Defensive end Ziggy Ansah has gotten his sacks in bunches this season. In Week 2 he sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning three times in the Lions' win on Monday Night TV. His three sacks of Bengals QB Andy Dalton Sunday gave him nine for the season. – *Mike O'Hara


Ebron a weapon: Sure, Lions tight end Eric Ebron struggled early in the year with both drops and consistency, but his play over the second half of the season has made up for any slow start he might have endured. He proved once again Sunday that he's a terrific mismatch against both linebackers and safeties. He beat linebacker Jordan Evans easily for a 33-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. His 29-yard catch and run down to the Bengals 5-yard, where safety George Iloka finally dragged him down, set up Green's 5-yard fourth–quarter touchdown. Ebron now has 52 receptions (third most on the team) for 565 yards and four scores. – Tim Twentyman

Replay review: Head coach Jim Caldwell got some criticism for not throwing the challenge flag on a long pass meant for Golden Tate in the fourth quarter. The question was whether the Lions needed to save a timeout more than they needed a big gain on third down to maintain possession. The answer is not black and white. One man's opinion – throw the red flag. – Mike O'Hara

Playoff observation: Sunday, and really all season long, this Lions team on either side of the ball simply didn't make enough of the impact plays necessary of being a playoff team. There weren't enough big stops on third down. There weren't enough of the key third-down conversions on offense. With a chance to make a big play down the field or in the end zone, too many balls hit the ground and too many throws were just missed. There weren't enough home games won. The kind of consistency you see in playoff teams just wasn't there. – Tim Twentyman

Missed chances add up: Games can be decided on plays at the end, but that doesn't mean what happens early isn't important. The Lions failed to cash in when they had good field position in the first half. Their last five possessions of the half started at their 41, 48, 40, 24 and 36. They got only seven points out of those opportunities. They needed more. – Mike O'Hara

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