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 the Lions’ loss to the Browns

Game in, game out the Detroit Lions excel at shooting themselves in the foot. They did it again on Sunday in a 13-10 loss to the Browns at Cleveland.

With the loss, Detroit falls to 0-9-1 and must make a quick turn-around to face the Bears (3-7) on Thanksgiving.

First things first.

All the blame for the loss can not be placed on quarterback Tim Boyle. It was his first career start in the NFL. Penalties and befuddling play-calling played a huge role in the loss. 

“I’m sure there were a lot of people who thought I was too conservative and maybe I ought to throw it a lot more but I’m not ready to do that with where we are here. … I think you’ve got to go where the game takes you,’’ coach Dan Campbell said.

The defense, however, came up big, shutting down the Browns in the second half. “I thought our defense played their hearts out,’’ Campbell said.

Five things to know:

1. The Lions had a chance to pull out a win. With 5:16 left in the game and down 13-10, the Lions had the ball on their own 40 after a beauty of a catch by T.J. Hockenson which was good for 24 yards. Then on first down, Jamaal Williams gets nothing, on second down Campbell calls a screen pass that did not fool the Browns defense and the Lions lose 4 yards. On third-and-14, it was a draw play for D’Andre Swift and he only gathered 5 yards. Game over once the Browns got the ball back and Nick Chubb just kept running.

2. The Lions finished with seven penalties for 67 yards. It was not just the number of penalties, on a Browns’ second-quarter drive Lions’ penalties on third and fourth downs kept their drive alive ending in a touchdown pass to Chubb. Oh, and between the third and fourth quarters Jonah Jackson was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. So the Lions were at first-and-25 instead of first-and-10 to start the fourth. Campbell said Jackson said something about somebody’s mother. He wasn’t more specific, but said there was a lot of talk going on.

3. The defense knew they had to stop running back Nick Chubb. The guy is a load, no doubt, but he carried the ball 22 times for 130 yards and scored with a touchdown reception. Detroit defense did keep the Browns off the scoreboard in the second half. Amani Oruwariye and A.J. Parker intercepted Baker Mayfield. 

4. Tim Boyle gained some momentum as the game wore on, finishing 15 of 23 for 77 yards and two interceptions. This was his first NFL start and it showed. Campbell said it’s unclear if Jared Goff, who has an oblique injury, will be ready to play on Thursday. If he’s ready he will play. If Boyle gets the start again, the coach said he’ll be better noting how he improved between the first and fourth quarters. “He ran the offense well, we had no communication errors. … I’m not disappointed in the kid,’’ Campbell said, admitting Boyle was rusty since he hadn’t played since August.

5. D’Andre Swift was a machine again. The Lions’ only touchdown came when he broke open for a 57-yard run into the endzone in the third quarter. He had 14 carries for 136 yards. He became the first player in team history to produce a TD rush of 50-plus yards and TD reception of 50-plus yards in a season since Barry Sanders in 1997. He’s also only the fifth Lion to ever produce 125-plus rushing yards in consecutive games. Swift had 130 rushing yards last week in the tie with the Steelers.

UP NEXT: The Lions (0-9-1) host the Bears (3-7) on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. The Bears lost 16-13 to the Ravens on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)