There are a lot of reasons the Detroit Lions finished 3-12-1, but a handful of key plays ended up defining their season. Here are the top 10 plays that shaped the 2019 Detroit Lions’ season.
Week 1 vs Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray 27-yard pass to David Johnson, Touchdown (4th 6:04)
The first 51 minutes of the Detroit Lions 2019 season were amazing. They thoroughly dominated the Arizona Cardinals, and their defense looked like it was living up to the offseason hype. Then, things went south. The Kyler Murray-led Cardinals stormed back into the game. This touchdown pass from Murray to running back David Johnson jump started the comeback, and got them a quick scoring drive.
This would be the first of many blown leads by the Lions this season, and the disappointment to start the year seemed to set the tone the rest of the way.
Week 3 vs Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz pass incomplete to JJ Arcega-Whiteside (4th 0:49)
A few weeks later, the Cardinals game looked like a blip on the radar. After defeating the Chargers, the Lions traveled out east to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in tough road game. It was arguably the sloppiest game of the season, but Detroit had eked out a three-point lead in the dwindling minutes. After a blocked field goal, the Eagles had a chance to steal a victory, and they almost did.
By the slimmest of margins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside could not snag a last gasp attempt to steal a victory. The Lions walked out of this game feeling like contenders after the smallest of victories.
Week 4 vs Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes 15-yard run (4th 1:55)
The Detroit Lions nearly pulled off what felt impossible in Week 4. Detroit’s defense put together an amazing performance a Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs team, and were on the verge of pulling off a statement win early in the year. They were one play away from locking up the win. With the Chiefs driving late, on their last chance drive to win the game, Detroit forced Kansas City into fourth-and-long.
Mahomes dropped back to pass, and the Lions coverage was great. No one accounted for the Chiefs quarterback, though, and he was able to scamper forward for a 15-yard gain to keep his team alive. A few plays later the Chiefs scored the game-winning touchdown, crushing the Lions heading into their bye week.
Week 6 vs Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers pass incomplete to Jake Kumerow, Penalty on Trey Flowers: Illegal use of hands (4th 1:45)
The Lions had another chance to earn a statement victory on the other side of the bye. They headed in Lambeau Field with a chance to fight their way back into the NFC North race, and should have won the game if not for a controversial ending.
Trey Flowers was called for a questionable hands to the face penalty for the second time in the fourth quarter, and this time it ended up saving the Packers on their final, eventual game-winning drive. Detroit fell on a last-second field goal, and their shot at the division effectively died.
Week 9 vs Oakland Raiders
Matthew Stafford pass incomplete to Logan Thomas (4th 0:03)
Detroit still had an outside chance at the playoffs in Week 9. A win in Oakland would have gotten them back above the .500 mark, and a back-and-forth battle with the Raiders came to the final play of the game.
The Lions were on the goal line and had one last shot to tie the game and force overtime. Matthew Stafford lobbed a jump ball to tight end Logan Thomas, who could not come down with the ball. Detroit lost, and their season effectively ended.
It was also the end of Stafford’s season. This was his last snap of the 2019 season.
Week 11 vs Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott 23-yard pass to Blake Jarwin (4th 1:54)
Detroit was already looking towards the draft heading into Week 11, but getting to play spoiler is always fun. They had a chance to do so against a Dallas team that was in the heat of the NFC East race, and they took them the distance.
Unfortunately, like so many other times this season, they came up just short in the final minutes. Detroit trailed by a possession and had the Cowboys pushed deep into their own territory. If the Lions defense could hold up for just two more plays then they would be in perfect position to force the game into overtime. They did not hold, though, allowing the Cowboys tight end to leak out into open space and scorch them for a big game.
Dallas entered victory formation on the next play, ending the Lions’ upset bid.
Week 12 vs Washington
Jeff Driskel pass intercepted by Quinton Dunbar (4th 0:48)
Detroit nearly ended their season ending losing streak at three games in Week 12. They traveled to the nation’s capital with an opportunity to walk out with a win. With the game tied late, quarterback Jeff Driskel had a chance to drive his team downfield for a last-minute win, but instead, he essentially lost it. Driskel threw a few horrible passes before being intercepted by Washington’s Quinton Dunbar.
Washington would score on the ensuing possession, and the Lions dropped their fourth straight game.
Week 13 vs Chicago Bears
Mitch Trubisky 32-yard pass to Anthony Miller (4th 2:52)
Detroit ended up losing every one of their divisional games in 2019, but they did come close to stealing a victory in Week 13. They had the Chicago Bears against the ropes, and were a defensive stop away from pulling out an upset win.
Unfortunately, the Bears managed to blow open the Lions defense with this play and get into scoring range. Just like so many other games this season, Detroit saw a late lead evaporate and came up just short.
Week 15 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston 25-yard pass to Breshad Perriman, Touchdown (2nd 8:13)
Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers blew up Detroit’s defense. With only a few weeks left of the season, the Lions seemed like they had almost given up. Their secondary had all kinds of trouble dealing with a banged up group of Bucs receivers, and they allowed Winston to throw for four first half touchdowns in an absolute route. They almost got a stop here, though. They managed to force the Bucs into a third-and-15, and generated some pass rush. Winston managed to escape them, though, and find a wide open Breshad Perriman for a touchdown.
Perriman had only scored two touchdowns all season before this. This was his second score in as many quarters against the Lions.
Week 17 vs Green Bay Packers
Mason Crosby 33-yard field goal (4th 0:03)
Despite being a better team for much of the day, and, once again, leading almost the entire game, the Lions lost to the Packers on a last second field goal for the second time this season.