With Cincinnati-Washington going to overtime, FOX was left to scramble to figure out how to switch to the local games in time, the ones that get played at actual hours people normally watch football. Fortunately, we got the Lions on television just in time for kickoff.
The Lions started with the ball, and Stafford converted two series of downs before the Lions faced a fourth down on the Texans’ 38-yard line. The Lions stayed on the field but failed to convert on a pass to Boldin, the first time the Lions had failed to convert a fourth down all season. The Texans took over, but Armonty Bryant sacked Brock Osweiler on third down to force a punt on three-and-out. Theo Riddick started to pick up yards on the ground, taking in 26 yards on the drive. Stafford missed Boldin in tight coverage on third down and the Lions tried a 49-yard field goal. Matt Prater set up but his kick was a knuckleball, and it ricocheted off the uprights.
The Texans took over and converted a third down when Osweiler connected with DeAndre Hopkins. The Lions, of course, are fairly allergic to tight ends, so Osweiler began to target Ryan Griffin as the quarter turned, and he beat Rafael Bush to convert on downs and get into the red zone. But it would be the other tight end, C.J. Fiedorowicz, that would stand open in the end zone for Osweiler’s first touchdown throw of the day.
The Lions’ chance to answer stalled and flamed out with a three-and-out, and the Texans were right back on the field for another long drive. A hard hit by Tavon Wilson on Fiedorowicz drew a personal foul and kept Houston’s drive alive. Osweiler then connected to Hopkins near the end zone, who hauled the ball in with a nifty one-handed catch. The next play, Lamar Miller punched it in to give Houston a quick two-score lead.
The Texans and Lions traded punts, with the only highlight coming when Jadeveon Clowney blew up Cornelius Lucas, who was in for the ill Riley Reiff, and sacked Stafford. The Texans had 80 seconds and three timeouts to play with, but Osweiler’s pass to Hopkins was intercepted by Johnson Bademosi, the replacement for the injured Darius Slay. Starting from the Texans’ 43 and looking to get some points before the end of the half, Stafford found Ebron twice to put Matt Prater in range for a 47-yard field goal, and he was on the mark this time.
The Texans got the ball to start the second half, but Tahir Whitehead and penalties gave them fits, and forced them to punt on three-and-out. The Lions could not capitalize, failing to gain a first down yet again and punting right back to the Texans.
On the next Texans’ possession, Osweiler looked to get the ball to Hopkins; he came across the field and what looked like a possible catch and fumble was blown dead by the refs. The play was ruled incomplete, but the replay showed a potential fumble, but Jim Caldwell did not throw a challenge flag. On the next play, Glover Quin drew pass interference to give them a fresh set of downs, followed by rookie Will Fuller hauling in a 17-yard pass. But the drive stalled in the red zone and the Texans settled on a field goal.
The Lions finally had a chance to put together a drive. Although the Lions had been unsuccessful at converting third downs all day, Stafford managed to put together two throws on third down to keep the drive alive. As the fourth quarter began, the Lions sat in the red zone, and pass interference against Houston put the Lions on the one yard line. Stafford found Riddick on a short pass and the Lions were back within one score, 17-10.
A’Shawn Robinson got home to Brock Osweiler on the next drive to force a long third down, and after a conservative handoff, the Lions got the ball back on three-and-out. An illegal block in the back would put the Lions back, and although Stafford made passes to get close, it wasn’t enough to stop from punting again.
The Texans turned to the ground game, and Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue both had powerful runs for large gains to march into Lions territory. Alfred Blue in particular bullied around the Lions defense, first powering for 10 yards in spite of multiple defenders on him and then forcing tacklers to miss as he took the ball to Detroit’s 12 yard line. Mercifully however, Khyri Thornton sacked Osweiler on third down and the Texans settled for a field goal.
Andre Roberts got past the 40-yard line to give the Lions good starting position, and Stafford’s first pass found Marvin Jones for 11 yards. Theo Riddick broke loose after that for 23 yards. After that, the drive fell apart and the Lions kicked a field goal to put the game within seven points with just under three minutes remaining.
In spite of how much time they had left, the Lions decided to try the onside kick, and the Texans recovered it and took over at Detroit’s 44-yard line. The Texans were able to quickly burn Detroit’s final timeouts and picked up a first down just before the two-minute warning. The Lions finished the day converting only three third downs.