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.

Five things to know about Detroit Lions’ loss to San Francisco 49ers

DETROIT — Dan Campbell’s analytical approach after the 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers seemed almost void of emotion. 

Of course he wanted to win in his debut as coach of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, but he put a finger on why that didn’t happen against a solid 49ers team.

The Lions dug a hole — they were behind 31-10 at the half and 38-10 in the third quarter. The deficit spelled doom. Not gloom and doom -— just doom.

They clawed back and with seconds left on the clock had a chance to tie the game. It didn’t happen, but they were in it until the end. 

“One of the things I wanted to make sure we did in this game was continue to play and give yourself a chance at the end of the game. We did do that,’’ Campbell said in his post-game presser. “Now you don’t picture it being that or you’re going to throw it 57 times, but ultimately our guys played until the end, they didn’t throw their palms up, they didn’t start sulking. And they just went back to work and found a way to get back into this game.’’

The defense played better in the second half and the offense found a way to score. Special teams kicked in by recovering a late onside kick.

“We gave ourselves a chance. Our margin for error is so small, it’s just the way we are and the way we’re built. We don’t have the luxury of making some of the mistakes we made and being able to win. So we’ve got to clean that up, we’ll clean it up,’’ Campbell said with a certain confidence.

Five things to know about the loss to San Francisco:

1. Campbell’s aggressiveness was evident early on. In the first quarter he went for it twice on fourth downs. On fourth-and-2 from San Francisco’s 35, Jamaal Williams couldn’t convert. Then on fourth-and-1 from the 49ers’ 17, Jared Goff converted with a 7-yard pass to Tyrell Williams and then the Lions scored their first touchdown on Goff’s 6-yard pass to T.J. Hockenson. “I felt like we needed to do that in this game, I think every game has its own challenges and its own unique floor plan if you will. I felt like it was important to try to create some momentum and I know 3 wasn’t going to be good enough to beat this team,’’ Campbell said.  “I don’t second-guess those, I was trying to be aggressive but smart at the same time.’’ The Lions were 2-of-5 on fourth downs.

2. In his Detroit debut, Jared Goff finished 38 of 57 for 338 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. The interception — he was trying to get the ball to T.J. Hockenson and held on too long — was returned for a touchdown making it all the worse. “All in all when you put 57 passes on a guy, relative to the way the game was going, he gave us a chance to come back,’’ Campbell said. “I’ll say that. At the end he gave us a chance. I’d like to believe if we could keep ourselves out of that situation our odds are even better.’’ Goff obviously has faith in Hockenson who had 8 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.

3. Running backs Jamaal Williams (9 carries, 54 yards) and D’Andre Swift (11 carries 39 yards) much of it in the first half. In the second half with such a deep deficit, the gameplan was thrown out the window and Goff was forced to throw early and often. Williams got the start and then Swift, who missed weeks of practice with a groin, stepped in. “Jamaal has been the rock because he’s been there every day. He’s been steady, he’s been sound. We know exactly what he is. He’s been very durable and dependable. That showed again today. He was exactly who we knew he would be and there’s value in that,’’ Campbell said. “Swift hasn’t practiced a ton. Now, we got him back, and you could see what he could do when you get him back. But there were things that Swift was able to do—that screen that he took to the house was something special. But it’s clear that he’s missed some practice. He was rusty. There were little things to his game that he can—and will be so much better now that he’s got this game under his belt. He’ll just get a little better and a little better and a little better. So look, I’m encouraged with that,’’ the coach added.

4. Rookie Penei Sewell lined up at practice at right tackle almost exclusively since the start of camp. When left tackle Taylor Decker injured his finger and underwent surgery last week, Sewell was moved to left tackle even though Campbell had a few other options.  “Ultimately, we felt like we knew that matchup would be (Nick) Bosa over there, who was – we all know the type of player he is. We just felt like, athletically, (Sewell) was the best matchup for him knowing he would get a dose of him and he is. He’s powerful, he’s big, he’s explosive, I’m talking about Sewell and he’s played some left tackle in college. I mean, that’s what he had done and I know he embraced it,’’ Campbell said. “Like, he was really excited to go back to the left. So, it just felt like the right move and from that standpoint, we felt like he performed pretty well.’’ Going up against Bosa in an NFL debut is one huge challenge but Sewell didn’t back down. “Can’t let the name on the back of that jersey beat me, so going in I gotta just focus on just kind of looking at them as another person and go from there,’’ Sewell said. Campbell said late in the second quarter he was going to say something into the headset about how well Sewell was playing but he didn’t want to jinx him.

5.  On the 49ers first snap on offense, Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled and it was recovered by Detroit’s Jamie Collins. But after that, Detroit’s defense didn’t get a stop until the third quarter. The hole they dug was just too deep for the offense to overcome. Cornerback Jeff Okudah couldn’t finish the game and was carted off with an injury. Campbell said it’s either his ankle or Achilles, the test results were not in. “I would say for Jeff it was an up and down game, he flashes on a few plays you’re like, ‘Whoa, OK there he is.’ Next thing you know something happens. I don’t want to make excuses but at the same time he’s in Year 2, he made some young errors,’’ Campbell said. The defense cracked down only allowing 10 points in the second half but it was too late.

NEXT UP: Lions at Packers, 8:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20.