A month of not playing very well finally caught up to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Bad penalties, turnovers and other non-penalty mistakes led to a 28-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Struggles to sustain drives offensively, and make impactful plays on defense, adds up to a dismal formula. Mix in turnovers by the offense, multiple in three of the last four games, and the Lions were fortunate to win three of four before Sunday's game.
Getting down to it, the Lions run of not-so-great overall play goes back further than just since Week 11, since after the bye, etc. They were undressed 38-6 by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, and they were good enough to beat the lackluster Las Vegas Raiders 26-14 in Week 8 on the night before Halloween.
Then came an exciting 41-38 shootout win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10 (after the bye), and the four pretty dismal games since.
A specific stat on each side of the ball sums up Detroit Lions' struggles pretty nicely
A couple core elements of winning football games are extending drives on offense, and getting off the field defensively, especially when the situation should favor you.
Via Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit, citing data from Stathead, the Lions are failing in one particular situation and down and distance lately. On both sides of the ball.
Third-and-8 or more for an offense is obviously not ideal. For the Lions that situation is especially "off-schedule", as they favor establishing the run game and working within Jared Goff's strengths/limitations. Still, that 15.4 percent conversion rate on third-and-8 or longer since Week 7, tied for fifth-worst in the league over the span, is ugly.
Defensively, it's not a surprise to see the Lions are allowing nearly 39 percent of third-and-8 or longer situations to be converted for first downs since Week 7. Opposing pass catchers are regularly roaming unabated through open spaces in the secondary, and the pass rush has struggled to get home. What should be a tough situation for an opposing offense, third-and-long, just isn't lately.
The Lions are 4-3 over their last seven games, in correlation with the aforementioned data. And they could easily have lost one or two more of those games.
There are more problems than third-and-long situations for the Lions right now, but those two pieces of data sum up the recent goings-on fairly nicely. Can't make a play on a third-and-long offensively often enough, and can't get off the field on third-and-long defensively.