Very few people expected a Detroit Lions win on Sunday with them on the road against the New England Patriots. Considering this, it's no surprise that the Lions lost to New England by a score of 34-9. What is surprising is that the Patriots gave the Lions so many opportunities to make things interesting, yet the Lions refused to take advantage of any of those chances. The Lions were outplayed, and they were certainly outcoached with Jim Caldwell having an absolutely awful day. In all, it was a one-sided affair with the Lions coming up short on offense, defense and special teams.
This may surprise you, but the Lions did actually have the lead at one point in this game. They got the ball first, and they marched down the field via passes of 24 and 17 yards to Golden Tate. Unfortunately, the drive stalled once the Lions got down to the New England 30, but Matt Prater hit a 48-yard field goal to put them on top by three points.
The Lions defense also got off to a promising start in this game, forcing back-to-back three-and-outs. Ndamukong Suh was especially impressive during this sequence, as he blew up a running play and somehow managed to hit Tom Brady on a wide receiver screen essentially right as the ball was snapped.
The bad news for the Lions is that the offense failed to do anything during this stretch. Actually, they had two three-and-outs of their own, and their failure to extend their lead came back to bite them quite quickly. I say that because the Patriots went 64 yards in 2:37 after getting the ball back and scored on a 4-yard pass to a wide open Tim Wright. The Lions' pass defense made life way too easy for Tom Brady, and this became a theme as the game progressed.
Missing out on opportunities was another theme for the Lions, as evidenced by their next offensive possession. A 42-yard pass to Tate put them in position to score, and they managed to get all the way down to the 2-yard line. The Lions failed to score a touchdown, however, thanks in part to a bad drop by Joseph Fauria. And instead of going for the touchdown on fourth down, the Lions settled for a 20-yard field goal.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lions with Danny Amendola returning the ensuing kickoff 81 yards. Three plays later, New England was back in the end zone, this time on a 3-yard run by LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots really started to pull away at this point, and that became even more true after the Lions decided to punt on fourth-and-3 from the New England 39. 13 plays and 5:03 later, the Patriots scored on yet another wide open pass to Wright. The 8-yard reception capped off a 93-yard drive and gave the Patriots a 21-6 lead.
The Lions closed out the first half in disappointing fashion by once again being overly conservative. This time, they managed to get to the New England 35, at which point the drive stalled thanks to three consecutive incompletions. Rather than try to move the chains on fourth-and-10 in an effort to score a touchdown before halftime, the Lions tried a 53-yard field goal, and Prater pushed it wide left. This gave the Patriots outstanding field position, and they added a 35-yard field goal to take a 24-6 lead going into halftime.
The second half opened with more of the same, at least initially. The Patriots had open receivers left and right, and Brady was carving up the Lions' secondary. Eventually, New England got down to the Detroit 10, and it looked like another Patriots touchdown was on the way. However, the Lions defense finally made a play with James Ihedigbo stepping in front of Rob Gronkowski for an interception. Josh Bynes got away with a defensive holding penalty on the play, but the interception kept the Patriots out of the end zone and off the scoreboard.
Unsurprisingly, the Lions offense failed to capitalize on the turnover. They had fourth-and-inches at their own 27-yard line after moving the chains once, and they elected to punt despite desperately needing to keep the drive alive. Predictably, the Patriots responded by quickly moving down the field, and they later added a 43-yard field goal to make this a 27-6 game.
The Lions nearly allowed things to get even more out of hand after going three-and-out, as Julian Edelman returned Sam Martin's punt 74 yards for a touchdown. The punt coverage by the Lions was downright embarrassing, but a penalty bailed out Detroit. The Lions defense then followed this up by forcing a New England three-and-out, and the offense managed to show some life thanks in part to a 22-yard gain by Calvin Johnson on third down near midfield. Once again, the Lions failed to find the end zone, though, and they once again settled for a Prater field goal instead of trying to go for it on fourth-and-14. The kick cut the Patriots' lead down to 27-9 as the fourth quarter got rolling.
Following another three-and-out by New England, the Lions again showed some promise on offense. I think you know how this ends, though. The Lions not only failed to find the end zone -- Jeremy Ross dropped a would-be TD, just as Corey Fuller did earlier in the game -- but they didn't even get a field goal this time. A field goal actually would have made it a two-score game, but the Lions opted to go for it on fourth-and-10 from the New England 25. Stafford scrambled and looked like he was on his way to a first down, but for some reason he slid short of the sticks, giving the ball back to the Patriots. It was an incredibly moronic play, and it basically served as a good summary of the Lions' awful day.
Any outside hope of a miraculous comeback for the Lions ended on their next possession, as Stafford was picked off by Logan Ryan. The Lions defense did another good job of forcing a punt prior to the turnover, but it was all for naught. The deflating interception gave the ball right back to the Patriots, and they marched down the field for another Blount touchdown, which came after the Lions extended the drive with a personal foul on a field goal. The TD made it 34-9 Patriots, and that's what the final score ended up being.
Sunday's game was obviously quite bad for the Lions, but the good news is that they have a short week coming up. In other words, they can immediately forget about Sunday's performance and turn all of their focus to playing the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving.
To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.