Heading into the second half of the season, the Detroit Lions were hoping to get things started on the right foot to try and salvage things and put the pieces back together. Their record heading into Sunday was a disappointing 2-6, and with the way the schedule looks down the road, it could be a lot better. The first way to start an upswing would be to beat the 49ers, who are not one of best teams in the league. A win would make it two straight and put a very positive feel on where things are going.
Well, that two-game winning streak will have to be put on hold. The Lions came out as flat as you could ever imagine and thanks to that and a few turnovers and then costly penalties, the 49ers squeaked on by Detroit. It wasn't pretty; that's for sure. This game could've easily gone in the Lions favor, but all of these mistakes just culminated into a 19-13 loss. It's the same script just a different team on the opposite sideline.
When games down get off to the right start, the feeling usually isn't too good. That's what happened yesterday as Frank Gore made a big statement. Gore played great the entire day until he was injured, but before that came he rushed for 159 yards. 61 of those yards were taken care of on one play. On the 49ers' very first drive, Gore took a delay on 3rd and long and made a few Lions defenders miss to go the distance. The long touchdown run put San Francisco on top 7-0 early, and was the first of many bad things to happen to Detroit.
The first mistake for the Lions on offense happened a couple of drives later. Kevin Jones took a handoff up the middle of the field and had the ball stripped. A San Francisco player fell on it and put them in great field position. The turnover eventually led to a 28 yard field goal by Joe Nedney.
The only scoring in the 2nd quarter also came from a field goal. Joe Nedney converted his 2nd on the day, this time from 23 yards out. Then Jason Hanson made one of his own from 25 yards out. At the half, Detroit trailed 13-3.
To open up the 2nd half, things couldn't have gone worse. On the first play of the 3rd quarter, Jon Kitna was hit while dropping back to pass and fumbled the ball. The call was questionable to me as it appeared the ground caused the fumble, but even with the Detroit challenge nothing changed. That gave San Francisco great field position again, and with that they made another 23 yard field goal.
Trailing 16-3, it was time to get something going. After dodging a bullet following a Roy Williams fumble by not giving up any more points, the Lions offense finally shook off the cobwebs and started clicking. A great drive was capped off in the best way possible as Jon Kitna found a wide-open Dan Campbell from 8 yards out for the touchdown. It was now only 16-10, and it appeared as though Detroit actually had a shot to win.
In the 4th and final quarter, both Detroit and San Francisco kicked another field goal each, moving the score to 19-13. This is where we are at when the Lions had one last chance to go down the field to score and win the game. Everything was going perfect, Detroit had no trouble moving the ball and the clock was even in their favor as San Francisco had no timeouts remaining if Detroit were to score. As Detroit got closer and closer, the drive stalled and put the Lions in a 4th and 13 situation. With 2 timeouts and the 2-minute warning still left, Detroit went against the books and tried to move the chains rather than just kicking a field goal. I'll tell you right now, I don't like the call at all. I can see where the coaches were coming from, but at that stage in the game, narrowing the lead down to just 3 points is big, especially when the clock could be stopped 3 more times. The end result of the desperation play was an interception, which was basically the same thing as not getting the first down anyways. Now, it was up to the Lions defense to get a stop and give the offense one last chance to try and win. On a 3rd and 4 play where a stop would've forced a punt, San Francisco got enough yardage for the first down, which ended all hopes of a Lions win.
For such a horrifically-played game by Detroit, the fact that they still had a chance so late to get the win is astonishing. But, as the Lions we know and love always do, they blew their chances of getting a victory. Detroit's record is now a dismal 2-7, and any hope that I had before the loss on Sunday is now completely gone. The Lions head to Arizona next Sunday to face the 1-8 Cardinals (yes, there's actually a team worse than Detroit). Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. EST. Remember, just 4 days later Detroit takes the field again on Thanksgiving to matchup against Joey Harrington and the Dolphins. It's going to be a busy week and a half or so for the Lions, and coming away with a couple of wins wouldn't hurt. Check back here next week for a recap of the Cardinals game, and seriously, hopefully another win. Until then, here's to staying optimistic and Go Lions!