Five reasons Lions lost heartbreaker to Vikings, 19-17

There are heartbreakers and then there are HEARTBREAKERS. For the second time in three games, the Lions have lost to opponents kicking field goals of 50 yards plus with no time remaining.

Coach Dan Campbell wiped away tears as he stepped to the podium for his post-game presser on Sunday after Detroit lost 19-17 to the Vikings thanks to a 54-yard field goal with no time left. 

Two weeks ago Detroit lost to the Ravens by the identical score after an NFL record-setting 66-yard field goal.

Credit goes to Campbell for finding a way to keep his bunch in the loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

“I do think in the long run this is going to pay dividends for us,’’ Campbell said. “As ugly as it is right now and hard to swallow, I do think we are building something special here that’s going to serve us well in the long term.’’

It wasn’t over until it was over. D’Andre Swift scored a touchdown on a 7-yard scamper to get within one point. Then Campbell made the bold call to go for the win instead of the tie. Jared Goff connected with KhaDarel Hodge for the 2-point conversion to give the Lions a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left. 

The Vikings had a pair of timeouts in their pocket and were able to get in field goal range, in part due to Kirk Cousins passes to Adam Thielen for 19 and 21 yards. Greg Joseph kicked the game-winning 54-yard field goal.

So close. Again.

“We’re going to be on the winning side of these before long, hopefully sooner than later,’’ Campbell said. “It’s coming. I don’t know when, but it’s coming when you play that way and fight that way. Clean up a couple of these mishaps that shot us in the foot, our days to be on the winning side of that are coming.’’

Five things to know about the loss:

1. Quarterback Jared Goff had two key turnovers. When he was sacked late in the first quarter and fumbled the ball with the Vikings recovering. Then he was intercepted by Eddie Kendricks early in the third quarter. This loss is not all on him, but he’s got to be better. The makeshift offensive line (missing Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow due to injury) needs to protect him better too. Goff finished 21 of 35 for 203 yards. 

2. Back to the offensive line. Remember when Penei Sewelll looked so good filling in for left tackle Taylor Decker in the first game or two? He’s playing like a rookie now, mostly good plays but big mistakes now and then that are costly. Decker was on the sideline giving him pointers. Sewell, who just turned 21 on Saturday, will learn and in the meantime he will see Everson Griffen in his nightmares.

3. Surprisingly the Vikings didn’t attempt a pass on every down. The Lions inexperienced secondary could not keep up. Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson had seven catches for 124 yards. Tracy Walker had a solid game and there were a few good plays sprinkled throughout but not enough. Still Campbell said he thought the defense played “lights out.”  They held the Vikings to just one touchdown.

4. The Lions have a decent running game. If they were winning games, the speedy duo of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Willams would be getting more credit. They combined for 108 rushing yards in the loss. Williams had 57 while Swift had 51 rushing yards and the lone touchdown.

5. Were there calls the coaches would like back? Sure. But Campbell explained they were tied to risk-reward. He’s learning this young bunch’s strengths and weaknesses and game-planning around that. He went for field goals on fourth down on Sunday instead of like the previous week when he tried to convert. A loss is a loss, but he’s not letting this team get blown out. And he refuses to let them hang their heads.

UP NEXT: Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)  at Lions (0-5), 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17. The Bengals lost, 25-22, to the Green Bay Packers in overtime on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

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.

Five things to know as Lions face Bears in Chicago

In the NFL losses are losses and then there was the last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. That could be a tough one to get over for the Lions but they have no choice.

The Lions (0-2) face the Bears (1-2) at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Sunday.

“Between my coaching staff and myself, we’re just trying to preach the right things every day. You go back to work. It’s about being resilient. It’s about learning from your errors. It’s about not giving up,’’ coach Dan Campbell said this week. 

“It’s all of the things and I think that the veterans that we have here that have been retained or that we have brought in believe the way we believe. They’ve been winners in other programs and they know what it takes and I think while we’re bringing them along, particularly the young guys, I think their voices are beginning to get louder,’’ he added.

The Bears are coming off a 26-6 loss to Cleveland in quarterback Justin Fields’ first start.

Five things to watch: 

1. Fields will get his second start on Sunday. All week the Bears were mum about who would get the nod, but announced on Saturday it will be Fields. The rookie completed 6 of 20 pass attempts for 68 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in the loss to the Browns last week. He was sacked nine times for a loss of 67 yards. It was not pretty.

2. Trey Flowers (shoulder/knee) will miss his second straight game. It looked like he was trending to play but was officially declared out on Friday. Holding him out is not devastating because of the depth on the defensive line. “I think, to be honest with you, we’re in a pretty good place just depth-wise and it’s more – I just feel like if we are – this is the right thing for Trey, too, which in turn is also the right thing for us long-term,’’ Campbell said. “I think if we can get him back to where he’s feeling really good, I think in the long run, that’s going to be a good thing for him and for us.” DE Michael Brockers and OLB Romeo Okwara are both questionable due to shoulder injuries.

3. They say if you have three quarterbacks you really don’t have one. That’s an issue for the Bears but at least starting quarterback is not a problem for the Lions. Jared Goff has been steady in the opening three losses with five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 69.6% completion percentage. He’s had the offense rolling for stretches, but not a complete game yet. “I think we’re really close. It’s a constant, ‘How do we get better today? How do we get better the next day?’ It’s always that way, but you feel close, you always do and we have to do it,’’ Goff said. “We have to put it on the field, we have to do it on game day on Sundays and make it come to life. Yeah, I do feel like we’re close to doing that and putting four quarters together.”

4. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is the leading receiver in yards with 18 catches for 173 yards, but Campbell things Quintez Cephus could be ready for a breakout game.”I think he’s – you see things last week, though he didn’t get targeted as much, I thought he did some good things on tape. He’s getting there. I think (Amon-Ra) St. Brown is close. I think he’s due to have a game for us. He does a ton of dirty work for us. I think his opportunities are going to come. And so, there again, it’s got to happen,’’ Campbell said. “I think once one to two of those things happen, then there will be confidence in those players and then, in turn, in all of us. It helps the quarterback, helps us game plan, all of those things.”

5. While the 66-yard field goal crushed the Lions hopes of a win last week, it was the fourth-and-19 conversion that allowed that kick to happen. Campbell blamed lack of communication for the breakdown on that play so they worked on it in practice this week. “Everything that we talk about emphasizing has really shown up and you can hear it. You can hear the communication, you can see them talking, you can see the hand signals. We do pre-practice walkthroughs, we do walkthroughs before practice. So, we have a pre-practice, pre-practice, then a pre-practice,’’ Campbell said. “It has, it’s really shown up. Now, do we still make mistakes? We do, but the point is, the emphasis, and it is, it was better. I thought (Thursday)  was one of the best practices that we’ve had all year. I was encouraged. It was good.”

PREDICTION: Lions 24, Bears 10