Lions frustrated after another close loss, this time to Dolphins

Lions coach Dan Campbell

DETROIT — Perhaps Taylor Decker sums up the Lions’ frustrations with a few words.

“It’s exhausting, but there’s nothing I can do other than go back to work. There’s nothing this team can do other than show up to practice on Wednesday with a good attitude and try to get this thing right,’’ the left tackle said after Sunday’s 31-27 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field. “When there’s opportunities we just have to capitalize. This sucks.’’

Coach Dan Campbell echoed the sentiments. The Lions, who dropped to 1-6, have to keep working to somehow eke out a win.

“My thought is as frustrating as it is, I know how close we are because we are still talking about one play,’’ Campbell said. “The hard thing is to just keep doing your job and staying in the thick of the storm. The easy thing is to go down below and get under the blanket, eat all the food and whatever. The guys who are going to stay on the deck, continue to do their part cause they know the sun is coming, those are the guys we’re looking for.that’s how I choose to think of this.’’

When reminded that he has said this often, he replied, “Two years, two years.”

Five of the many things that played a key role in the loss:

1. The Lions held a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter and were up 21-7 at the half. The offense was good for 326 yards in the first half and 67 yards in the second half. Detroit had just three second-half possessions. The difference was mostly penalties — five in the second half, one in the first half. On the Lions’ first possession in the third they were whistled for three straight – false start (Penei Sewell), offensive holding (Sewell)  and false start (Decker). “In those 3 possessions I didn’t feel they did anything defensively that took us out of what we were doing …. It had nothing to do with them, that’s on us,that’s a self-inflicted wound we took ourselves out of our own rhythm.’’

2. With less than 3 minutes left, and the Lions behind 31-27, they had a fourth-and-1 at the Miami 35. Instead of going for the yardage, Jared Goff heaved one to Josh Reynolds in the end zone but he couldn’t grab it. It’s just one play of many but could have kept them in the game.

3. Detroit’s defense, which looked like it made a turn-around in the loss at Dallas a week ago, was overwhelmed. Miami finished with 476 total yards. They only punted once. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished 29 of 36 for 382 yards and three touchdowns. “We didn’t hit them at the line, that was part of the game plan. We did not disrupt. … We didn’t want to turn it into a track meet and it was a track meet,’’ Campbell said. He said coaches and players were at fault at not handling the defensive game plan that was specifically designed for the Dolphins.

4. After no touchdowns in the previous two games, it looked like the offense had made a turn for the better with three first-half scores. Goff played better, especially in the first half. He finished 27 of 37 for 321 yards and one touchdown. He was only sacked once. Nothing worked in the second half. “I don’t know how many drives we had in the first half, but we only had three in the second half and the two we kind of killed ourselves with penalties,” Goff said. “Kind of put us behind the eight-ball situation there and that last drive was the drive to win the game and we didn’t finish it.”

5. Close doesn’t count and Campbell would be the first to say so. In four of the Lions’ six losses they have lost by a total of 14 points, including a 4-point difference on Sunday. Campbell said that coach Bill Parcells used to say the only way to win close games is to win close games. Of course, it’s easier said than done. 

(Next up: Packers at Lions, 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at Ford Field.)

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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