Sunday's game for the Detroit Lions started out as a ridiculous, fun battle in the snow. The Lions were in complete control of the game, leading 14-0 at one point, and it looked as though they were going to move a step closer to the NFC North title. It didn't last, though. The game turned into a ridiculous, depressing collapse by the Lions. The Philadelphia Eagles completely ran them over with 28 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 34-20 victory, leaving the Lions stunned and 7-6 on the season.
As expected, the snow played a huge role in this game, especially early on as the teams tried to adjust to the conditions. The Lions opened with a three-and-out that included a fumbled snap on second down, and the Eagles opened with a three-and-out of their own thanks in part to a 10-yard loss on a run by DeSean Jackson.
The Lions did find some success on their second drive of the game. They moved the chains on third-and-7 on a pass to Calvin Johnson, and Joique Bell moved the chains again with an 8-yard run. Later, on third-and-15, Matthew Stafford found Brandon Pettigrew for 23 yards. It looked like the Lions were actually going to put some points on the board, but Bell fumbled the ball away to the Eagles when they got down to the Philadelphia 20.
It was more of the same for the Eagles on offense, as they again went three-and-out. The Lions took over at their own 40 after the stop, and it was more of the same for them as well. Bell had success on the ground early in the drive, and Stafford found Johnson downfield for 33 yards on a catch that broke the Lions' all-time receiving record. Unfortunately, once the Lions got down to the 10-yard line, Bell fumbled again. The Eagles recovered, meaning the score remained 0-0 as the second quarter got started.
Following yet another Eagles three-and-out, the Lions answered with a three-and-out of their own. Again, Stafford fumbled a snap, and Dorin Dickerson was unable to bring in a nice pass from Stafford on third down. This didn't turn out to be a bad thing, though. I say that because on the first and only play of the Eagles' next drive, Nick Foles had a pass sail on him and it went right to Chris Houston, who made the interception and returned the ball to the Philly 20.
The Lions managed to not waste this great field position thanks to a key play on fourth down. Stafford's pass on third-and-2 was incomplete, but he found Bell for 10 yards on fourth-and-2. Despite being at the 12, the Lions had no interest in kicking in these conditions, so they made the right call to go for it and it paid off. Following the conversion, Bell ran into the end zone from 2 yards out, giving the Lions the lead. The Lions added to the lead when Bell caught a pass in the end zone on the 2-point try, making this an 8-0 game.
After the two teams traded punts, the Eagles finally found some offensive success of their own. LeSean McCoy opened the drive with a 14-yard run, and Foles later found Jackson for 17 and 11 yards. After a loss of 2 yards for McCoy and an incompletion, the Eagles had third-and-12 and Riley Cooper was stopped 7 yards short of a first down on a screen. The Eagles went for it on fourth down, and Rashean Mathis made another nice play on this drive by swatting the ball away in the end zone.
The Lions got the ball back at their own 10-yard line, and with only 49 seconds left on the clock, they ran it twice and took a knee to get to halftime with an 8-0 lead. By halftime, there were as many as 6 inches of snow accumulated at certain spots on the field, according to FOX, so it's no surprise that the Lions simply wanted to get to the locker room as quickly as possible.
The field was not completely cleared of snow at halftime due to NFL rules, so the tough conditions remained. Knowing this, it's no surprise that the second half opened with a couple more punts. The Lions did flip the field by driving down to the Philadelphia 36, but that was as far as they got before having to punt.
The Eagles couldn't do anything after McCoy was tackled for a loss of 6 yards to open the next drive, and they had to punt after a three-and-out. Jeremy Ross used the snow to his advantage and took the punt 58 yards to the house for a touchdown. Punt returners were mainly just making sure they didn't turn the ball over up to this point in the game, but Ross had some room to work with and celebrated with a snow angel after his 58-yard touchdown. This put the Lions on top by a score of 14-0 after their 2-point conversion attempt failed.
The Lions defense finally broke on the next Eagles drive. Foles completed a 12-yard pass to Jackson on third down, and he found Cooper deep for 44 yards on the very next play. One snap later, Foles found a wide open Jackson in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. It looked like he might have stepped out of bounds before making the catch, but replays were inconclusive, so the play wasn't overturned. Following a failed 2-point conversion attempt of their own, the Eagles trailed by a score of 14-6.
The Lions almost got to midfield before having to punt the ball away to the Eagles. Once again, the defense completely collapsed, this time thanks in part to some questionable officiating. First, Nick Fairley was flagged for an extremely weak roughing the passer penalty, making it first down instead of third down. McCoy then ran for 40 yards and a touchdown two plays later, setting up a 2-point conversion to tie the game. Foles threw a bad fade that went incomplete, but Ndamukong Suh was flagged for holding despite it looking like he was the one who got held. Predictably, the Eagles converted the 2-pointer on their second try, making this a 14-14 game.
The game didn't stay tied for long, as Ross returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. It was his second return for a touchdown of the game, and this one gave the lead back to the Lions. They planned on going for a 2-point conversion again to add to their lead, but a false start backed them up. Following this, Jim Schwartz called timeout and decided to have David Akers try the extra point. Unsurprisingly, it was blocked, so the Lions only led 20-14.
The score again quickly changed only a few plays into the next Eagles drive. This is because the Lions defense continued its collapse with an embarrassing attempt at trying to stop McCoy. He ran for 6, 13 and 57 yards, with the 57-yarder going for another touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good as well, meaning the Eagles now had a 22-20 lead.
After an ugly three-and-out for the Lions, it was more of the same for the defense. McCoy ran for 26 yards, Foles ran for 20 yards and Bryce Brown ran for 17 yards. The Eagles eventually got down to the 1-yard line, and Foles ran it in on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal. The 2-point conversion try failed thanks to an incomplete pass, keeping this an 8-point game, but it didn't end up mattering in the end.
The failed 2-pointer didn't matter because the Lions quickly gave the ball back to the Eagles. They wasted a 46-yard kick return by Ross and a 28-yard reception by Bell with a botched snap. Dominic Raiola snapped it before Stafford was ready, and Stafford tried to pick the ball up instead of simply falling on it. This was a brutal mistake, because the Eagles ended up recovering the ball.
Fast forward to the sixth play of the next drive and Chris Polk scored on an easy 38-yard run. The 2-point conversion was no good, but the Eagles were in complete control of this game with a 34-20 lead. They remained in control after the Lions went four-and-out with four straight incompletions. Philly took over and eventually had fourth-and-12, and Foles hit a wide open Brent Celek for 27 yards to ice the game. Celek could have scored a touchdown, but he slid short of the goal line, keeping the score 34-20 and allowing the Eagles to take a knee and bring this snowy game to an end.
After the Lions' latest collapse, the Monday night game next week against the Baltimore Ravens could very well become a must-win for Detroit. The Green Bay Packers won on Sunday, and the Chicago Bears play on Monday this week. Once again, the Lions' cushion in the standings has disappeared, and another loss could result in them falling down the standings and out of the playoffs. This team has got to get it together.