The Detroit Lions offense didn’t live up to the expectations that come with playing under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. After rising to offensive prominence a year ago, the Lions have struggled in 2012 and Monday’s loss to the Bears was no different.
A quick three and out on the Lions’ first drive was quickly followed by a Bears touchdown drive capped off by a seven yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall. After just one possession for each team and it had the feeling of a long night for the Lions. It didn’t get out of hand like last year’s meeting in Chicago but as it turned out, the Bears needed little more than that initial touchdown to hold off the Lions.
It wasn’t like the Lions weren’t without chances. They made three trips into the red zone with the game still in doubt but squandered each opportunity with a turnover. Mikel Leshoure fumbled inside the 20-yard line late in the second quarter when the Lions had an opportunity to make it a one-score game heading into the half. Joique Bell lost control of the ball as he stretched for the goal line in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Lions faced a fourth and goal yet couldn’t score after Matthew Stafford threw an interception after facing heavy pressure on the play.
The turnovers were frustrating but equally frustrating was the Lions’ inability to get standout performances from their best players. Matthew Stafford was inconsistent. It seemed Stafford and the Lions offense alternated poor throws with botched catches. Calvin Johnson finished with just three catches despite being targeted 11 times. CJ’s issues were on display early when he dropped a pass during the opening drive in which he was all alone over the middle.
The Lions defense didn’t look ready to play when they first took the field but responded with a very good game after that. Jay Cutler was sacked five times and while he didn’t throw an interception, he completed just 16 of 31 passes. Even with a patchwork secondary, the Lions defense was not the problem.
Another week and the Lions are left with nothing but questions on offense. Whether or not they can find their stride might be irrelevant. Now sitting at 2-4 on the year, time may have already run out.