Lions' second-half collapse has similar ring to last season's opener
Detroit — One half does not make a game.
In the case of the Lions’ defense, the first half in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears was encouraging, but the second half — especially the fourth quarter — will leave a bad taste in their mouths.
The Lions gave up three fourth-quarter touchdowns, including the go-ahead score on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky to Anthony Miller with 1:54 remaining, which proved to be the difference.
“We missed opportunities throughout the game and we probably weren't as disciplined as we wanted to be. We didn't make enough plays that we wanted to make,” defensive end Trey Flowers said. “Throughout the game, we probably should have put ourselves in a better position. We have to do a better job of keeping the energy, focus and discipline throughout the game.”
The defense was up to the task in the first half, allowing just two field goals, on two trips in the red zone, and totaled 200 yards. The Bears were 0-for-6 on third down, with Trubisky going 8-of-20 for 110 passing yards, entering halftime with a 6-6 tie.
They had just three first downs and one third-down conversion in the third quarter, as the Lions pushed ahead for a 23-6 lead.
“One thing I think we did well (in the first half) was in the red zone,” Flowers said. “They had just six points. Getting off the field on third downs was pretty good. We should have done a better job stopping the run.”
The Bears dominated the final period, with touchdowns on each of their three possessions. Trubisky, who has had more success against the Lions than any other team, added to his resume, with scoring strikes to Jimmy Graham, Javon Wims and Miller.
The blown lead was a reminder of last season, when the Lions couldn’t hold on to a double-digit advantage and settled for a tie against the Arizona Cardinals in the opener.
“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to execute. It’s about coaches, it’s about players, it’s about the whole team, it’s a collective effort,” safety Duron Harmon said. “We’ve just got to finish. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to finish it.”
Injury bug bites
Some of the Lions’ issues on defense were attributable to injuries. They were without first-round pick, Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall selection, who didn’t play because of a hamstring issue.
Throughout the game, the Lions lost three more cornerbacks, as Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman each suffered hamstring injuries, digging into the Lions’ depth at the position.
“At the end of the day, it’s the next man up; it’s the next man in the football game. They were dealing with injuries, we were dealing with injuries and that’s what happens,” Harmon said. “Everybody has a job, and it’s no letdown when somebody gets hurt. We expect to continue to perform at a high level, and we didn’t do that in the fourth quarter.”
The Lions also were without receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (MCL sprain). The Bears didn’t have pass rusher Robert Quinn (ankle).
Lions coach Matt Patricia said losing the cornerbacks throughout the game was tough but the depth at the position helped.
“It’s hard when you’re down some guys, especially in one area. When you have a couple of injuries at one position you’re trying to do the best you can,” Patricia said. “We have confidence in all of those guys when they’ve got to go play. We’ll see what it looks like tomorrow from the injury standpoint and we’ll assess and go forward.
“We know it doesn’t stop; you know we’ve got challenges every week and certainly at the skill positions, the DB position, we know how important it is to have all of those guys out there and to have them be healthy.”