The Detroit Lions outgained the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday by a margin of 390 to 229. Despite this, the Lions lost by a score of 24-21. How? They finished Sunday's game with 5 turnovers -- 4 interceptions and a lost fumble -- and they also got a punt blocked. Despite the Bucs' best efforts to give Detroit a win, the Lions were apparently not interested, leading to their second straight loss.
This game opened with a pair of really ugly drives. Matthew Stafford threw a couple incompletions and Reggie Bush went for a loss of 2 yards en route to a three-and-out, and the Bucs had a pair of incompletions and a gain of 2 yards en route to a three-and-out of their own. In the first two minutes of this game, there were two punts.
The Lions got a spark with an excellent punt return by Jeremy Ross before their next drive. He went for 42 yards after Tampa Bay's three-and-out, giving the Lions the ball in Bucs territory. After a penalty moved the chains on third-and-1, the Lions were in business, but Stafford was picked off when a pass to Nate Burleson was tipped up and intercepted.
The Bucs turned the interception into points with success on third down. A Nick Fairley roughing the passer penalty really got the drive going by moving the chains on third-and-15, and Mike Glennon proceeded to move the chains through the air on third-and-5 and third-and-6. He was unable to keep the drive going on third-and-19, though, which came after Ziggy Ansah sacked Glennon for a loss of 10 yards. The Bucs settled for a 38-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Lions answered with an excellent 11-play drive. Stafford found Burleson for 8 yards on third-and-6 and then 28 yards on third-and-6 again just a few plays later. Burleson then picked up 18 yards before Calvin Johnson turned a slant into a gain of 19. A quarterback sneak moved the chains on third-and-short, and Burleson caught a 5-yard touchdown pass on the very next play, putting the Lions on top by a score of 7-3.
The Bucs didn't trail for long thanks in part to a 47-yard pass to Vincent Jackson. Rashean Mathis got burned despite being flagged for illegal contact, putting Tampa Bay in position to score. After converting a third-and-3, the Bucs did score on a 7-yard pass from Glennon to Tiquan Underwood. Now the Lions were down 10-7.
Once again, the offense provided an excellent response. Kris Durham went for 18 yards and the Lions got 15 more because of a roughing the passer penalty, and Johnson picked up 18 more on Darrelle Revis. Fast forward to third-and-6 from the 10-yard line and Joseph Fauria found the end zone with an outstanding catch in the back right corner. He somehow managed to drag his feet inbounds for the score, making this a 14-10 game in favor of Detroit.
After a 13-yard sack by Glover Quin and a false start penalty opened the Bucs' next drive, the Lions were able to force a quick three-and-out. They got the ball back at their own 35, and a 7-yard pass to Johnson on third down put them near midfield with around a minute left. The Lions were looking to pad their lead, but instead they gave the lead back to Tampa Bay when Stafford missed Brandon Pettigrew and was picked off again. Leonard Johnson returned the interception 48 yards for a touchdown, and the Bucs took a 17-14 lead into halftime after the Lions failed to do anything on their next drive. (Of note on their final drive of the half: Stafford missed an open Johnson downfield before throwing a rocket off Burleson's head on third down.)
The second half opened with a dominant stand by the Lions defense. The Bucs went 7 yards in the wrong direction on a pair of runs before an incompletion on third down. The result was a three-and-out and the Lions getting the ball at their own 31.
The offense came out with a dominant drive of its own to start the second half. With Revis sidelined because of a groin injury, the Lions went to Johnson twice. First, he picked up 12 yards despite being interfered with, and he later went for 21 with an outstanding catch on third down. A few plays later, Stafford found Pettigrew, who had a great catch of his own for an 18-yard touchdown. Just like that, the Lions were back in the lead.
After another quick three-and-out by the Bucs, the Lions offense got rolling again. Bush ran for 39 yards to open the drive, and a pass interference penalty moved the chains on third-and-11. The Lions got all the way down to the Tampa Bay 25-yard line before Stafford made another brutal mistake. He tried to go to Johnson in the end zone, but he was picked off yet again. His third interception gave the ball back to the Bucs at their own 17.
The Bucs managed to move the chains on a 14-yard pass, but a holding penalty and a false start combined to kill their next drive. The Lions defense continued to play well, and the offense took over at its own 32. The Lions had third-and-6 at the 36 a few plays later, and a pass to Burleson came up a yard short of a first down. It wasn't all bad, though, as Sam Martin's ensuing punt went 56 yards and pinned the Bucs at their own 5.
Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, the Lions defense failed to take advantage of their opponent's poor field position. After barely converting a third-and-1, the Bucs went deep for Underwood and connected. Glennon's pass went 85 yards for a touchdown thanks to poor coverage by Chris Houston, and Tampa Bay now had the lead back with a 24-21 advantage.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lions after their next drive came to an end with a 10-yard sack. I say that because Martin's punt was blocked by Tampa Bay and returned to the Detroit 11. It looked like the Bucs were about to put this game away, but the defense stood tough. Thanks in part to a 10-yard sack by Ansah -- his second of the day -- the Bucs had to settle for a 35-yard field goal, and it ended up barely going wide left.
After catching a big break, the Lions offense managed to screw things up by giving the ball back to the Bucs. They did move the chains on a gutsy decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches, but Durham fumbled the ball away a few plays later. He had a third-down conversion, but the ball came loose as he tried to fight for extra yards and was recovered by Tampa Bay.
Once again, the Bucs bailed out the Lions with some mistakes of their own. Despite getting the ball at the Detroit 37, the Bucs were unable to come away with any points after the fumble recovery. This was partly because Glennon took a bad sack by Willie Young for a loss of 7 yards on third-and-3. The other part was another missed field goal by Rian Lindell. It went wide left from 50 yards out, meaning the Lions caught another break and had yet another chance to tie this game up or take the lead.
Just like the previous drive, the Lions gave away their chances of winning. After moving all the way down to the Tampa Bay 28, the Lions faced third-and-12. Stafford threw the ball up for grabs and Johnson looked like he was going to come away with it near the 5-yard line. Instead, though, he tried to make a move upfield and lost control of the ball... right to a Bucs defender. The pass ended up being picked off as a result, bringing the Lions' hopes of a comeback to an end with Glennon kneeling the ball three times to hand Detroit a 24-21 loss.
The Lions have played like a team that doesn't want to win its division the last two weeks. With the Green Bay Packers coming to town on Thanksgiving next week, that has to change.