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

Last-second, record-breaking field goal a gut punch for winless Lions

Jared Goff has been around, but he said Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal at the buzzer that gave the Baltimore Ravens a win over the Lions was the biggest gut punch he has ever been a part of. He wasn’t alone.

“I don’t know how to describe it — I didn’t think it would make it. I know he can reach it if you kick it low, but if you said they’re going to kick a 66-yarder to win the game you would take those odds,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “But he made it , kudos to him. They put themselves in position to do it.”

The Lions had forged a second-half comeback topped by a 35-year field goal late in the fourth which gave them a 17-16 lead over Baltimore, but there was a minute and four seconds left and Lamar Jackson at quarterback.

On first and third downs, Jackson was sacked, losing a total of 9 yards. On second down, his pass to Devin Duvernay was incomplete.

Then on fourth-and-19 from Baltimore’s 16-yard line, Jackson connected deep left with Sammy Watkins for 36 yards.

“The call was fine, it’s just the way we played the call. Communication errors, I’ve said it before. It’s not an excuse, it’s a matter of how quickly you clean it up,’’ Campbell said. “But we do have growing pains and there’s things we have to continue to work out, work out the kinks, and grow from this and learn from this.’’

Of course the game was not without controversy. On the second-down play before the field goal, Jackson threw the ball away but it appeared there was no time left on the play clock and he could have been penalized for delay of game.

A Detroit pool reporter spoke with NFL referee Scott Novak who had not seen the play so did not have an answer on if the TV play clock is in sync with the game clock. 

“There’s nothing I can say to that because it’s the same thing, tomorrow you get an apology and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s life, that’s the hand we were dealt,’’ Campbell said. 

Goff said basically the same thing. He expects a Monday apology from the NFL and then will move on.

So with 3 seconds left, Tucker bounced the ball off the crossbar, straight up in the air and over for an NFL record and the Ravens’ win.

The Lions (0-3) are still looking for their first win under Campbell.

“There again you feel like you put yourself in position, even though we didn’t play perfect it’s (crushing). I also know the silver lining is we’re getting better. We really are and I was proud of the way they competed,’’ Campbell said afterward. “I felt we were going to find out a lot about this crew — our guys I’m talking about — coming out of this because I think Baltimore is a gritty tough team year-in, year out. If you’re not prepared to face them ….

“I thought we gave them all they could handle but they walked away the winner so we didn’t do enough,’’ the coach added.

The Lions’ offense struggled big-time early, going into the locker at the half down 10-0.

In the second half they rode the hot hand with running back D’Andre Swift who had six touches, 49 yards and a 2-yard touchdown scamper on the third-quarter drive that put the Lions on the scoreboard. They were down 13-7.

Then on the Lions’ drive to open the fourth, Jamaal Williams blasted his way into the end zone for a touchdown. First the officials ruled he was not in. But a Detroit challenge paid off, showing he was over the goal line. With the extra point the Lions were down 16-14. 

On the Ravens’ next possession Detroit’s Amani Oruwariye intercepted Jackson at Detroit’s 21. That set up the drive that ended in a field goal and 17-16 lead for the Lions.

“I am proud of the way we fought, we did fight our way back into this game. I don’t question that. I know we’ve got the right guys here, they’re made up of the right things,’’ Campbell said. “Look they were crushed, it hurts, but also know I’m pretty confident these guys are going to come back to work to clean it up and Wednesday they’ll be ready to go for the next one. And that’s all you can ask of your guys at this point is how do we eliminate these things and correct these things that are biting us in the rear.’’

Goff sounded optimistic about the character of the team too.

“It was our day until that last second. If that field goal is a foot shorter we’re saying, ‘Hell yeah, here we go.’ All I’m saying is that optimistic mindset ], that belief in each other, that belief that this is our day, that belief that we’re going to win, that belief this isn’t the same old thing every game. That belief will remain and needs to remain,’’ said Goff who finished 22 of 30 for 217 yards.

THIS AND THAT: Lamar Jackson, who had averaged 96 rushing yards in the first two games, was held to 58 rushing yards including one 31-yard scamper. … He was sacked four times — one each by Alex Anzalone, Romeo Okwara, Charles Harris and Austin Bryant. … The defense was without Trey Flowers who didn’t practice all week. … Will Harris led Detroit with six tackles. … D’Andre Swift topped the 100-yard mark for combined rushing (14 carries, 47 yards) and receptions (7 for 60 yards). … The Lions were just 30% on third-down efficiency and edged the Ravens 22-15 in first downs. 

UP NEXT: Lions (0-3) at Chicago Bears (1-2). The Browns beat Chicago, 26-6, on Sunday.