The Lions were the darlings of the NFL at 5-0 with a pair of record setting comebacks and a convincing win on national television. Despite the success, the writing was on the wall that the Lions were walking a fine line between success and failure. They were committing penalties, going three and out, giving up sacks and getting bailed out by terrible coaching by their opponents. The last two weeks they have played teams that don’t have a reputation for shooting themselves in the foot and they have been beaten handily in both games.
The Lions got off to another scorching hot start with -1 yard of total offense, 2 sacks surrendered, 1 turnover, no first downs and 5 penalties in the first quarter. At least they scored in the first quarter, but even that was a disappointment because the Eric Wright picked off a Matt Ryan pass and returned it to the Falcons 15. The Lions promptly got sacked twice and settled for a field goal, as usual, and the Falcons actually gained momentum from the turnover.
The Lions played better in the second quarter until just before halftime when they got gashed by a 30 yard pass to Tony Gonzalez, a 19 yard run by Turner and a 18 yard touchdown pass to Roddy White. The Falcons scored earlier in the quarter after a horrifically bad pass interference call gave the Falcons 1st and goal at the goal line. Bobby Carpenter did interfere with Tony Gonzalez, but the ball was thrown at least 5 yards out of the back of the endzone, thus making it uncatchable and not subject to pass interference.
The Lions came out strong in the second half holding the Falcons to a three and out on their opening possession and putting a strong drive together before Mike Martz, oh I’m sorry Scott Linehan, made some questionable play calls. Maurice Morris ripped off a 31 yard run to get the Lions to the Falcon 6. The Lions’ run game was picking up some steam so naturally Linehan capitalized on the momentum by calling a pass, an end around and another pass that netted an incompletion, no gain and a sack for a loss of 10. Instead of making the score 17-13 and building momentum, they settled for a field goal and gave the Falcons momentum.
The Lions started to run the ball again and had some success and in a moment of temporary sanity, they scored a touchdown after using play action to free Calvin Johnson up for a 57 yard touchdown. Imagine that, a balanced offensive attack leading to a big play. It appeared that the flood gates were about to open up for the Lions, but they instead went back to trying to throw deep against coverage designed to take away the deep passes. The Lions sprinkled in some stupid penalties for good measure and ultimately cost themselves the game.
This team believes they are better than they are, the coaches think they are smarter than they are and the team lacks any semblance of discipline. This was a must win game for the Lions because they are now going to be two games behind the Packers in the division and now lost the head to head tiebreaker with the Falcons which could cost them in the Wild Card chase. However, if the Lions players and coaches don’t get their heads out of their behinds, the playoffs are a pipe dream with the way this team has been playing.