Katzenstein's Four Downs: WR Moore rises to fore
With 19 catches for 228 receiving yards this season, Lions wide receiver Lance Moore already has surpassed his production from a disappointing 2014 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As he accumulated 106 yards on five catches in the Lions' 37-34 overtime win over the Bears Sunday, the 32-year-old Moore looked like the player he was for years with the New Orleans Saints, combining savvy route-running with good hands and better timing.
"Lance played great," fellow receiver Calvin Johnson said. "He made some great catches today. I've seen Lance play when he was with the Saints. I know he can make those plays, and we needed to just give him an opportunity."
For Moore, Sunday's game was his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 17 of 2012, which happened to be his only season with more than 1,000 yards. In Pittsburgh last year, Moore had just 14 catches for 198 yards.
"I'm not worried about last year," he said. "I'm worried about my job now, and that's to come here and do whatever it takes to help this team win."
And with catches for 42, 26 and 20 yards, with the latter during an opening-drive touchdown, Moore did his job as well as he could Sunday.
Safety Don Carey led the Lions out of the tunnel Sunday, and the other 45 active players ran out behind him.
Typically, the offensive or defensive starters will wait in the tunnel for their individual introductions, but the Lions skipped that pregame tradition Sunday.
"Felt coming out as a team is what we had to be in order for us to make any strides," coach Jim Caldwell said. "We've got to come together and play well, so I think the guys believed in it and that's the way we wanted to get it done."
After an 0-5 start, the Lions had to make some changes to find a winning formula, and regardless of the impact of the foregone introductions, they won the game.
"We win together, we lose together, so if that's what coach Caldwell wants to do, then I'm all for it," wide receiver Lance Moore said.
While the team unity concept could've helped the Lions, Caldwell made another decision that could've cost them the game. Trailing 31-24 with 2:50 remaining, Caldwell decided to kick a 32-yard field goal on fourth-and-4.
"We look at those things, we calculate them, we anticipate them (and) we don't just talk about them when they come up," he said. "We had talked about that minutes before, so we were kind of anticipating what we'd do."
Ultimately, the Lions won so the decision worked. The defense forced a three-and-out — with a timeout following all three plays — on the ensuing Bears possession, and the offense scored a touchdown to go ahead 34-31 with 21 seconds left, though the Lions needed overtime to win.
Caldwell pointed to the three timeouts as a reason for the field goal, but the conservative approach would've been a big story line had the Bears converted a first down and kept the ball away from the Lions.
"I'm sure we have a chart for it, so I just defer to the chart," quarterback Matthew Stafford said of the decision. "There's some smart guys up there making those decisions. I'm glad I don't have to make them."
Wide receiver Corey Fuller has made some key plays for the Lions offense the past two games, including converting a third down in overtime with his only catch Sunday.
But, he's been far from a special teams dynamo, and on Sunday, he accidentally brushed the ball on a punt return to give the ball to the Bears, who used the turnover to cut the Lions' lead to 24-23 with 12:27 left in regulation.
As much as Fuller is to blame, he has struggled mightily to stay in front of the gunners he's blocking this season, so it's surprising to still see him have those opportunities. But, besides noting a couple penalties, Caldwell took issue with the idea Fuller has been inconsistent on special teams.
"The fact of the matter is, he does his job," he said of Fuller.