The Lions have had chances to slam the door late in each of their three games this season.
But while the end results have been mostly successful, the path there has sometimes been rockier than it needed to be, Darrell Bevell said Tuesday.
After three games in his new position, Detroit’s offensive coordinator acknowledged his unit has had shortfalls down the stretch, despite a 2-0-1 start.
Take Sunday. The Lions went ahead 27-17 on a Marvin Jones touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia. On the next three drives, the Lions gained 35 yards and did not score, barely holding on for a 27-24 win.
“We can definitely do a better job there,” Bevell said. “I’m not going to say we’re going to call any different plays or any of that. But we need to convert, we need to get a first down, and I think that if we could do that, the game could’ve been a big time different situation.”
The biggest culprit in Sunday’s late failure was the run game, which gained 1 yard on seven run plays before Matthew Stafford kneeled down in victory formation twice to close the game.
Meanwhile, Stafford was 3-for-7 passing during those three potential clinching drives, gaining 34 yards.
It was a lot like Week 1, when the Lions went conservative after taking a 24-6 lead in Arizona early in the fourth quarter there.
Over the next two possessions, Bevell called eight run plays which netted 30 yards as the Lions failed to answer Arizona scores. Stafford was 2-of-3 passing for 9 yards until a late, desperate drive with the score tied, resulting in a punt that set up overtime in the 27-27 tie.
Bevell and the offense did get aggressive in the fourth quarter to clinch a 13-10 home win against the Chargers in Week 2. A fourth-down throw from Stafford-to-Jones and a clinching completion to Jesse James were among the highlights.
But late in those road games, the Lions neither took much time off the clock or put points on the board.
“As an offense, we pride ourselves on being able to finish that and take that time off the clock,” Bevell said. “We’re all on board that we need to do better there.”
Black and blue
After Chicago’s 31-15 victory on Monday night at Washington, the NFC North is 7-0-1 against teams outside the division.
It’s the only NFL division with all four teams sitting over .500 with only the NFC West having three teams at 2-1 or better.
After Sunday against Kansas City and the bye week after that, the Lions play at Green Bay on Oct. 14 and home against Minnesota on Oct. 20 to open divisional play.
Throwing it back
The Lions announced Tuesday that they will be wearing throwback uniforms, which are an homage to the 1934 originals, on Sunday against Kansas City.
The uniforms, typically reserved for Thanksgiving games, are logo-less on the silver helmets and are being rolled out in conjunction with the NFL 100 celebration, which they are dubbing the “Fantennial.”
The Lions signed wide receiver Chris Lacy to the practice squad, releasing running back Nick Brossette.
Lacy, who played one game last season and the first two games this year, was released on Saturday.
Brossette played a preseason game with New England and has now been released twice by Detroit this season.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.