The Detroit Lions had a golden opportunity to escape their Thanksgiving Day game with a win despite a variety of internal and external reasons they shouldn’t. They had just taken over at the Texans’ 41-yard line after Chris Houston intercepted Matt Schaub in overtime.
I sat in the Ford Field stands and said that the Lions needed two first downs before feeling good about attempting a game winning field goal. Things were looking good after a 14-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to Tony Scheffler but what took place after that left me scratching my head.
Rather than continuing to play to their strengths, the Lions chose to settle for the long field goal. The first down catch was followed by two conservative running plays that did nothing but back the Lions up a yard before kicking the field goal on third down.
Is Jason Hanson usually money from that distance? Absolutely, but why settle for a long field goal when it is within your power to get closer?
A similar issue is among the hot topics in the wake of this week’s loss to the Colts. The Lions’ lead had been cut to five points but the Lions controlled their own destiny with the ball in their hands. Faced with a third and five coming out of the two minute warning, the Lions once again went conservative and away from their strengths. A handoff to Mikel Leshoure went for just one yard and forced the Lions to punt the ball back to the Colts with 1:07 remaining.
In essence, the Lions chose to run an extra 40 seconds off the clock over the opportunity to seal the game with a first down to ensure the Colts never got the ball back.
The Lions defense is not absolved from responsibility but at least one finger needs to be pointed at a coaching staff that has played it safe in two straight weeks and posted losses as a result.