There is no mystery as to why the Detroit Lions lost on Sunday Night Football to the Pittsburgh Steelers after seeing these third down stats.
The Detroit Lions had every advantage going into Sunday night’s battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Lions were coming off their bye week, so they were well prepared and rested. And they were playing at home, Ford Field. Yet, at 5-2, the Steelers were still seen as the better team.
But despite Pittsburgh being the favorite on paper, and ultimately winning the game 20-15, the Lions were in fact their own worst enemy Sunday night.
Against one of the league’s top defenses, Detroit was able to produce an impressive 482 net yards of offense. And it was enough to win the game if the Lions had chosen to kick field goals over going for it on two fourth downs in the red zone, failing to convert both.
Although the Lions inability to convert those fourth downs were certainly disappointing, they were a symptom of a bigger issue. It was the team’s lack of third down conversions that really stopped the Motor City’s offense from scoring touchdowns over field goals.
"“The Lions were 2-of-12 on third down (17 percent) in Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers, their lowest third-down conversion percentage since a 2015 loss to the Chiefs (also 2-of-12). Matthew Stafford didn’t complete a third-down pass until the fourth quarter.” – ESPN Stats & Info"
The fact Stafford didn’t complete a single pass on third down until the final frame is even more amazing when you consider the highest paid player in league history completed 27 of his 45 passes for a whopping 423 passing yards. And the fact the Lions only came away with five Matt Prater field goals despite all those yards.
It’s clear that the Detroit Lions have the offensive firepower to compete with any team in the NFL. But it’s hard to beat any opponent when you are your own worst enemy.