Lions' Bevell: Early, aggressive strikes are ‘who we are’

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News

The passing game unraveled after early success and the running game never got going once again for the Lions on Monday night.

But the downfield strikes and aggressive play-calling early in Monday’s 23-22 loss to Green Bay exemplified the identity of the Detroit attack, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Tuesday.

In the first Lions offensive drive, quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a flea-flicker complete to Kenny Golladay in front of the Packers' Kevin King in the first quarter.

“I think it’s kind of who we are,” Bevell said. “We felt like we had a couple of those chances, and we were able to make the most of them early, but there are other chances along the way as well that we have to continue to make those connections.”

Matthew Stafford connected with Kenny Golladay for a 66-yard flea flicker on the game’s first play from scrimmage to set up a field goal. Then, a 58-yard connection to Marvin Hall Jr. set up a Kerryon Johnson score for an early 10-0 Detroit lead.

But as the Packers clawed back, the offense settled for field goals and empty drives far too often throughout the night.

After Stafford set a franchise record with 168 passing yards in the first quarter, the Lions had 58 yards on six drives in the second half.

“I just think sometimes it’s how the game is played,” Bevell said. “Sometimes you’re able to get those shots there, and sometimes — we always tell them to read it from top-down, and we were able to do that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Stafford still leads the league in average air yards per completion at 8.1. He was last in the league for primary starting quarterbacks last season with 4.7 per completion under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

The Lions continued to struggle on the ground, with Johnson gaining 34 yards on 12 carries and Green Bay outrushing Detroit 170-56.

“I’m not going to put it all on Kerryon,” Bevell said. “There are a lot of corrections to go around.

“We just had either a guy falling off a block or just other issues where we were really one guy away again, and like I said, it’s happening too much. We have to get that corrected.”

Hot and cold Coleman

Justin Coleman continued his eventful season on Monday, intercepting his first pass of the season and taking it back 55 yards to set up Matt Prater’s fifth field goal of the game.

The Aaron Rodgers pass deflected off Darrius Shepherd’s helmet near the goal line and popped up into Coleman’s arms.

However, Coleman also was on coverage when Rodgers dropped a perfect, 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter.

One game after Coleman forced a fumble and punched out a would-be touchdown against Kansas City on Sept. 29, Coleman added a season-high five tackles, including three solo stops, in Green Bay.

“He’s a very prideful guy,” Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said. “Every rep he takes in practice is all out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a footwork drill. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knock the ball away from the receiver drill. 

“He works his butt off and he competes his butt off in the game. He’s really done a nice job for us, and really has done a nice job competing at a very high level against a bunch of really good wide receivers.”

Detroit vs. The Refs?

According to, the Lions have benefited from the league's least amount of penalty yardage assessed to their opponents: 234 yards at 46.8 per game.

The team with the most yards of penalties? Green Bay with 501 total yards in six games. However, the Packers are second to Indianapolis in penalty yards assessed to opponents per game with the Colts benefiting from an 85.6-yard average in five games.

Prater points

Prater became the third kicker to make 50 career field goals from 50-or-more yards on Monday, joining Sebastian Janikowski (58) and former Detroit kicker Jason Hanson (52).

Prater’s five field goals tied a career high, and his 16 points were the most for an opposing kicker at Lambeau Field since Mark Moseley had 16 for Washington in 1983, the season after he won league MVP.

Welcome back

Wide receiver Tom Kennedy was added to the practice squad after he was waived Monday to make room for defensive lineman John Atkins.

Kennedy, a former professional lacrosse player, played 15 snaps against Kansas City on Sept. 29 in his only career NFL action.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.