A couple weeks ago, we took a deeper dive into the Detroit Lions’ red zone performance because there’s no question it cost them the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. We discovered that while the Lions did mix up the play calling a bit, they were still extremely unsuccessful running the ball, especially in short-yardage situations.
Some of those same problems popped up the following week against the Green Bay Packers. On one series, the Lions came up short on three straight rushing attempts from inside the 2-yard line.
So how did the Lions perform on Sunday against the Browns? Detroit made just two trips to red zone in Week 10. Here’s what happened.
Detroit scored four offensive touchdowns on the day, however two of those were scored from outside the red zone—a 40-yard screen pass to Golden Tate, and a 29-yard strike to Eric Ebron.
The Lions only entered the red zone twice and finished both drives with touchdowns: one rushing, one passing.
The Lions only ran a total of six plays in the red zone, but almost all of them were successful. Here’s a look at each play:
- First-and-10: Incomplete pass (throw away)
- Second-and-10: Abdullah run for 2 yards
- Third-and-8: Matthew Stafford scrambles for 9 yards
- First-and-goal: Abdullah run for 8 yards, TD
- First-and-10: Pass to Abdullah for 3 yards
- Second-and-7: Pass to Riddick for 8 yards, TD
That’s six plays for 21 yards, which averages 3.5 yards per play. While that number isn’t particularly eye-popping, it’s efficient enough when you’re dealing with a shortened field.
Perhaps most importantly, the Lions didn’t have any negative plays in the red zone like they had in the previous two weeks. Against the Steelers, only three of 17 red zone plays gained more than a single yard. Last week in Lambeau, the Lions offense gained one yard or fewer on seven of 13 red zone plays. This week, that number was just one in six plays.
The Lions called just two running plays in the red zone, but those two plays combined for 10 yards and a touchdown, which is much more impressive than week’s past. Also of note, only Ameer Abdullah took rushing attempts in the red zone this week.
When the Lions dropped back to pass on the other four red zone snaps, Matthew Stafford was pretty efficient. He went 2-for-3 for 11 yards, 1 TD and nine rushing yards.
Goal line/Short-yardage situations
Where the Lions have really struggled in the past is running the ball in goal line situations. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of that this week, as the closest the Lions got to the goal line was the 7-yard line. This explains why Dwayne Washington didn’t even receive a single carry on Sunday.
The Lions weren’t really tested in any other short-yardage situation against the Browns. Detroit faced 11 third downs on offense, but only three of those were with three or fewer yards to go. In all three of those situations, the Lions opted to pass. Stafford went 2-2 on those plays for 34 yards, 1 touchdown, and one sack (2 of 3 conversions).
The sample size was incredibly small here, so it’s hard to really judge if Jim Bob Cooter has this team’s short-yardage offense fixed. Still, two red zone trips turning into 14 points is exactly where you want to be, even if the Browns have the worst statistical red zone defense in the league.