Five things to know about Lions Thanksgiving loss to Bears

In the annual Thanksgiving Day game, two series with back-to-back-to-back penalties stalled the Lions’ offense.

Then late in the game the defense was in disarray. Back-to-back timeouts were called which is illegal in the NFL, cost a penalty and then the Bears kicked the game-winning field goal.

It was another Lions’ game — a 16-14 loss — that left a bitter taste in the mouth.

The Lions (0-10-1) are still looking for their first win. The Bears (4-7) provided a good opportunity to punch it in at Ford Field. Instead it was just another punch in the gut.

“It’s just a matter of we have to learn how to win. Once we learn how to win then we can begin to see the fruits of our labor a little bit,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “The effort is there, the fight and the fact that here we are, it’s 3 games in a row we’re right there at the very end. 

“There again, I see improvement. I sit there and watch and I see some of these guys get better and better. What encourages me is I know the core of this team and I know the vets we’ve got and the young guys. These guys aren’t going to lay down, that’s not what these guys are made of, that’s what keeps me hopeful to know we are building something,’’ Campbell said.

It’s a familiar refrain for this team years after year, decade after decade. Rebuilding since 1957.

Five things to know about the Lions loss:

1. On two Lions’ offensive series there were back-to-back-to-back penalties.In the second quarter Detroit had first-and-10 at Chicago’s 29-yard line. They were in field goal range and then a false start by T.J. Hockenson was followed by a holding call on Evan Brown and then Jamaal Williams was called for a false start. All of a sudden it’s first-and-30, then second-and-26, then third-and-32, then punt. Campbell said some teams can overcome penalties but the Lions can not. “The bottom line is we put ourselves in those third-and-a mile situations and that’s on us. Those things kill you,’’ Campbell said. It happened again in the fourth quarter. Fans booed loudly when Goff completed a 7-yard pass on a third-and-32. 

2. Jared Goff who returned after missing Sunday’s game due to injury completed his first dozen passes, but the offense had trouble establishing the run game finishing with just 76 rushing yards. Goff had a different outlook on the penalties. “The false starts are absolutely on us, that can’t happen,’’ Goff said. “You can call holding on every single play, it’s no excuse we’ve done it too much and I know those guys are hard on themselves up front. Back there they can throw that flag every play and to me it seemed like it was a little too often on that call.’’ D’Andre Swift left the game with a shoulder injury which affected the offense but still no excuse.

3. When a defense holds an opponent to 16 points, the team should be able to find a way to win. Campbell praised the defense repeatedly for keeping them in the game. And yet when the Bears got the ball with 8:30 left in the game, the Lions defense could not get them off the field. They went down and kicked a game-ending, game-winning field goal.

4. Calling back-to-back timeouts in the final minutes is inexcusable. The defensive players have to understand and know what is going on. Here is how Campbell explained it: “It was a check by what they were doing. So you don’t get it until it’s in the middle of the play, but it’s something that we had talked about. And so you don’t get it pre-snap, it’s a call and it’s got basically a check on it to what they’re going to do and what they line up in offensively is what happened. So we had half in one call and half in another. So the first thing in my head is, ‘Well, we’ve got a blown coverage and they’re about to score a touchdown, so I do it, which you can’t do and now it’s a penalty. But I know that if he threw it out in a flat it was about to be a touchdown.’ Can’t do it.”

5. Coaching has to be under scrutiny. Not just the conservative play-calling, but also having guys prepared. That whole back-to-back timeout situation is a perfect example. And the Lions finished with a season-high 10 penalties costing 67 yards. In Week 12 that should not happen. No excuses.

UP NEXT: The Lions host the Minnesota Vikings (5-5) on Sunday, Dec. 5, at Ford Field.

Five things to know about Lions vs Bears on Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving tradition like no other — a winless NFL team playing a struggling, dysfunctional team.

Pass the Tums.

The Lions (0-9-1), who started playing Thanksgiving games in 1934, will face the Chicago Bears (3-7), who have lost five straight which sparked rumors about Coach Matt Nagy’s tenure. It’s the second meeting of the NFC North basement dwellers after the Bears won 24-14 on Oct. 3.

“We did some things good the last time we played them and the turnovers killed us. And so, I think some of that is us just trying to be smart when we get down there and give ourselves a chance to possess the ball and then see if we can get it in there,’’ Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “But, we ran it pretty good until we got behind and then we weren’t able to run it anymore. Look, we scored with (Kalif Raymond) Lif down there, but certainly those turnovers killed us.”

Five things to know about the nationally televised Thanksgiving game:

1. Boy did the Lions ever miss Jared Goff in the loss at Cleveland on Sunday. On Tuesday, Campbell said Goff is improving and it looks like he could play. He is officially listed as questionable and was able to practice on limited basis. Still it could be a gametime decision. Certainly Goff gives the Lions a better chance of winning than Tim Boyle who struggled in his first NFL start on Sunday.

2. Once again, the Lions will face a backup quarterback. Andy Dalton will start for the Bears. Rookie Justin Fields is out with bruised ribs. It will be Dalton’s third start this season where he’s amassed three touchdowns and one interception.

3. Campbell said there are a couple calls he’d like back after calling the offense in the past two games. “I think that certainly finding some runs has been pretty good. I feel like just mixing it up and letting those guys go up front has been pretty good and it’s helped us,’’ Campbell said. “We’ve kind of found a running game here, but I think that maybe there were a couple of calls there where – it’s tough to say because you could say, ‘Well maybe we ought to pass it here.’ But also, wanting to be mindful of – the first week you’ve got a guy who you don’t feel like can push the ball down the field, you want to be smart, the conditions aren’t good and then we come back with another game where the conditions aren’t great. Boyle hasn’t – it’s his first start. You go back and forth on that. Do you try to take care of them? Do you try to get it with (D’Andre) Swift on the ground or do you put it in his hands? You play that game a little bit, but certainly there are things I wish I could have back, but I’m growing at it as well.”

4. “I think what’s going to help us is getting a first down. If we can get a first down to sustain a drive, then we get a couple more plays to try to put it in the hands of our receivers, whether that’s a run or a short pass. I think to be able to really helps those guys out, I think we’ve got to convert on third down. We’re way too low right now. Even if you can convert one or two more times in a game, you allow yourselves a minimum of six plays and then you don’t know where that’s going to go. I think everything starts there.”

5. The defense has been doing a good job of creating turnovers and they need to keep it up.  “I think you’re always talking about them. You’re always preaching them. You’re always working. Like, we work turnover drills. We’ve been doing them all year, but sometimes it just takes – you’ve got to get a little momentum and all of a sudden you get one and guys start feeling it and smelling it,’’ Campbell said. “And next thing you know, one guy sees his teammate doing it, he starts doing it, and then the next one starts doing and it does, it becomes contagious. Unfortunately, it’s no different than offensively. If you start fumbling the ball, pretty soon that becomes contagious the wrong way.”

PREDICTION: Bears 24, Lions 17

Five things to know about Lions 24-14 loss to Bears

In the first three losses, the Detroit Lions showed flashes on both sides of the ball, but never could put it all together. The team took a step backward in Chicago on Sunday with a 24-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Injuries played a factor but every team has injuries so that is not going to fly as an excuse.

The ugly loss was on everyone from Dan Campbell on down. 

Communication was a problem in the last-second loss to the Ravens the previous week so they worked on it last week, but it remained an issue all-around.

The Lions scored on a pair of touchdown passes from Jared Goff to Kalif Raymond in the second half, but it was too little too late. That always seems to be the case.

Five things to know about the loss:

  1. The Lions fumbled the ball twice in the red zone. Center Frank Ragnow appeared to snap the ball early, Goff was not looking for it and the Bears recovered in the first quarter. Then later in the half, Goff fumbled when sacked by Robert Quinn on Chicago’s 3-yard line. Khalil Mack recovered for the Bears.
  2. Instead of going for a field goal from the Bears’ 5-yard line on fourth-and-goal, the Lions went for it and Goff’s pass intended for D’Andre Swift was deflected and incomplete. Again late in the game with a fourth-and-one — and down by 10 points — instead of going for the field goal Goff threw an incomplete pass. Six points is six points. Not enough to win but enough to matter.  Goff finished 24 of 38 for 299 yards and no interceptions.
  3. Lions defense allowed too many chunk plays. Bobby Price, a safety just converted to corner, could not keep up. But it was not all on him.  Rookie Justin Fields completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 215 yards with one interception.
  4. The Lions looked unprepared for the Bears. They didn’t know until Saturday that Justin Fields would start at quarterback but Campbell said earlier in the week he didn’t think Chicago’s offense would change no matter who got the nod. So, again, no excuse. Not to say Campbell and his staff don’t work hard, they certainly do. But along the way whether it’s on the players or the coaches the team did not look ready. They know they can’t get in a hole early and they were down 14-0 at the half.
  5. At 0-4 the Lions are at a critical point. Dan Campbell can’t lose the team. He has said all along the margin of error was small in part because the team is so young. 

NEXT UP: Lions (0-4) at Vikings (1-3) on Sunday, Oct. 10. The Vikings lost 14-7 to the Browns on Sunday.