The Detroit Lions hung with the New York Giants like they have for every game this season, but their blown chances early haunted them late and they dropped to 9-5 following a 17-6 loss.
The game got off to a pretty concerning start. The New York Giants got the ball first and drove right down the field with little resistance. Eli Manning took his offense 75 yards in just 10 plays while only facing just one third down. He capped off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass against poor coverage from Asa Jackson. The Giants were aided by a horrible call on an Odell Beckham Jr. catch, but the Lions didn’t do much to help themselves.
The offense couldn’t respond, as a 13-yard rush from Dwayne Washington to open the drive was quickly followed by three plays and a punt that pinned the Giants back within their 10. A quick three-and-out gave the ball right back to Detroit with decent field position. The Lions methodically drove down the field, but an Eric Ebron drop stalled the drive. Matt Prater knocked a 48-yard field goal to put the Lions on the board, 7-3.
The Lions defense picked up another three-and-out, giving the offense a perfect opportunity to pull ahead. Matthew Stafford wasted no time, finding Golden Tate deep down the right sideline for a 67-yard gain, but Zach Zenner fumbled the ball into the end zone on the next play. The Lions missed on a huge opportunity there against a good defense.
The Giants responded by driving down the field yet again, but as they got into plus field position, wackiness ensued. New York drew up a well-timed screen play, but just as Shane Vereen was nearing the end zone, he fumbled. The Lions had a chance at a recovery, but Rafael Bush bungled it away. The Giants recovered for a touchdown, but an illegal hands to the face penalty nullified the play and New York settled for three.
The teams then traded three-and-outs, but the Lions got a huge special teams play from Brandon Copeland, who blocked the Giants’ punt, giving Detroit the ball at their own 43-yard line at the two-minute warning. But Stafford and the gang couldn’t quite get in field goal range and the two teams headed to the locker room with the Giants up 10-3.
The Lions started the second half with the ball needing to score. That’s exactly what they did, as Stafford slowly led the team down the field on a 12-play drive. Detroit got into field goal range after this impressive catch on third down from Marvin Jones:
HIGHLIGHT: @MarvinJonesJr hauls in stellar 21-yard catch: https://t.co/Dnz13WTgJL pic.twitter.com/Ro0AilkppN— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 18, 2016
However, the Lions’ red zone woes continued, as they were forced to settle for a short field goal, drawing the team closer 10-6.
The Giants’ offense couldn’t retaliate with points, but they drove long enough to pin the Lions offense deep at their own 4-yard line. A Detroit three-and-out then gave the Giants the ball back at midfield. Detroit’s defense responded with a three-and-out of their own, getting the ball back again within their own 5-yard line.
The Lions were able to move the ball out of the shadow of their own end zone, but a failed wide receiver screen on third-and-long gave the ball back to the Giants with over nine minutes remaining.
The Lions needed another defensive stop to give the offense a chance to take the lead late, but they never got it. With Darius Slay out because of an injury suffered in the first half, the Lions trotted Asa Jackson out there and the Giants took advantage. Odell Beckham Jr. burned him on a third and long, and then what appeared to be a miscommunication between Jackson and Glover Quin left Beckham wide open for a touchdown.
With just 5:47 remaining and an 11-point deficit, the Lions comeback machine faced its toughest task yet. They didn’t answer the call, immediately going three-and-out and punting the ball away.
They had one more chance after the defense forced another three-and-out, but Stafford threw into double coverage in the end zone and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ended any hopes of a comeback with an interception.