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Lions Controlled by Bengals in 23-13 Loss

The Lions made a statement early on today and led the Bengals 7-0, but Cincinnati quickly took over and showed why it is the second-best team in the AFC.  The Bengals didn't blow Detroit out of the stadium or anything like that, but they played solid defense and controlled the ball en route to a 23-13 win over the Lions.  The score really doesn't reflect the closeness of the game because Detroit was pretty much out of it by the time the second half got going.  Cincinnati outgained the Lions by a pretty good amount of yards and completely owned them in time of possession.  The Bengals had the ball for more than 38 minutes, and it seemed like Detroit's offense was barely on the field in the second half.

The start of this game was actually great for the Lions; believe it or not.  After picking off Carson Palmer, the Lions went for it all on the very next play and scored on a 54-yard pass to Calvin Johnson.  Just like that the Lions took a 7-0 lead, but that was the only time they were able to score today until the game was already basically over. 

Cincinnati turned this game around in the second quarter when Matthew Stafford threw an interception on a screen pass.  It was third down and the play was set up for Aaron Brown to get the ball as a receiver, but the pass was tipped, picked off, and returned 45 yards for a Bengals touchdown.  Cincinnati closed out the half with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco and a field goal to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.

The second half was pretty uneventful for the most part.  Cincinnati put together a couple long drives that ended in field goals, which was just enough to put the game out of reach.  The Lions did get into the end zone toward the end of the game on a Kevin Smith run that was set up by another amazing catch by Calvin Johnson, but it was too little, too late. 

Daunte Culpepper was the Lions' quarterback at this point because Matthew Stafford took a hard hit on the Lions' previous possession and was in even more pain than earlier in the game.  Culpepper sailed a pass over Calvin on the 2-point conversion try, which basically brought any slim hopes of a comeback to an end.  Cincinnati recovered an onside kick and took a knee to run out the clock and win 23-13.

This game was a tough one to swallow because the defense played fairly well.  They gave up only 16 points, with the other 7 coming off an interception.  It was really the offense who let the team down, though it didn't get much of a chance to do anything for most of the second half.  In that sense the defense played poorly by allowing Cincinnati to control the ball for so long, but they made up for it by holding the Bengals to field goals except for one time.  Basically the Lions' biggest problem today was that Cincinnati shut Matthew Stafford down outside of the touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson.  He struggled mightily, which just can't happen if the Lions are even going to think about winning.

Next up for the Lions is a trip to Baltimore to play the Ravens.  The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot, meaning they will be going all out to avoid falling prey to an upset.  It will be interesting to see how injured Matthew Stafford is, but even if he is completely healthy I don't see any way that the Lions will win this game.  In all likelihood, Detroit will be 2-11 when they return home to play Arizona on December 20.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.