Lions trampled by Colts in seventh straight loss at Ford Field
Detroit — Having given fans a little hope a week earlier with a thrilling last-second comeback, the Detroit Lions just as quickly snatched it back, getting pummeled by the Indianapolis Colts, 41-21, at Ford Field on Sunday.
The defeat halts the momentum the Lions had built coming out of their bye, dropping them to 3-4 on the season. The team has now lost seven straight at home, dating back more than a calendar year.
The loss is also likely to shift the season's focus back from the playoff race to coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn's future with the franchise.
As they have so often this season, things started off promising for the Lions. Keeping a season-long streak alive, Detroit scored first, only to see Indianapolis go on to dominate the first half.
"Obviously, didn’t sustain drives well enough in the first half, or the second half to be honest," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "Didn’t run the ball as well as we can, obviously, and then just didn’t play well enough in the passing game to overcome that.
"We scored early which was great, but we weren’t able to be consistent on drives and our defense was out there for a long period of time, which isn’t good," Stafford said.
The two teams traded punts early before Miles Killebrew broke through and blocked the Colts' second punt. After Jamie Collins recovered the loose ball, the Lions' offense needed two plays to open the scoring.Stafford connected with Marvin Jones on a 25-yard touchdown out of play-action, putting the Lions up 7-0.
But that was the only damage the Lions mustered through two quarters as the Colts responded with three consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter, dominating the half's time of possession.
Colts quarterback Philip Rivers knotted the game at seven when he found running back Nyheim Hines coming out of the backfield for a 22-yard catch-and-run score.
After another short possession for Detroit, the Colts went to work on a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive.
The Lions shot themselves in the foot on the series when a third-down stop that would have forced a punt was negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty by defensive tackle Danny Shelton. That led to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to tight end Jack Doyle.
"We obviously can’t get a penalty in that situation," Patricia said. "Obviously, we gave them a second chance, we gave Philip Rivers a second chance and they got points out of it. We have to play better, we have to play smarter in those situations."
The Colts (5-2) extended their advantage to 20-7 with another quick defensive stop and long touchdown drive. After converting a fourth-and-1 immediately after the two-minute warning, Rivers dropped a perfectly placed deep ball to Hines over the coverage of safety Tracy Walker for a 29-yard touchdown with 56 seconds remaining in the half.
"We talk about what we want to be, how good we want to be, and that starts with consistency," safety and team captain Duron Harmon said. "And at no point were we consistent."
Detroit managed to work the ball into range for a Matt Prater field goal before the break, but the kick sailed wide left as time expired.
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Without star receiver Kenny Golladay, who suffered a hip injury at the end of the first half, the Lions' offense managed to get on track with the first possession of the third quarter.
Converting a pair of third-down passes into Colts territory, Stafford found running back Kerryon Johnson on first-and-goal. The back extended the ball across the goal line to cut the lead to six early in the third quarter.
"We went in at halftime understanding we have to play 60 minutes and we’d have another 30 minutes of football and we needed to reset and go out and play better," Patricia said. "I thought we started to turn it a little that way, but again, give Indianapolis credit, they were able to sustain it and push it all the way through to the end."
After the two sides traded punts, the Lions had an opportunity to take the lead after working their way to the Colts' 25-yard line, only to see Stafford have the ball knocked loose from his grasp when dropping back to pass.
It was the first time this season the Lions had fumbled on offense.
Taking advantage of the turnover, and a 41-yard pass interference penalty committed by cornerback Justin Coleman, the Colts pushed their advantage back to two touchdowns on a 1-yard run to Jordan Wilkins, followed by a successful 2-point conversion by the back.
Things only got worse when Stafford was intercepted on the first play of the ensuing drive. Cornerback Kenny Moore jumped the pass intended for Marvin Jones, returning it 29 yards, making it 35-14 with 13:26 remaining.
"Just didn’t have good enough eyes on the nickel," Stafford said. "I didn’t see him. Obviously, it was pretty evident when you watch it. I wish I had gone somewhere else, no question about it. Obviously, I wish I would have held on to the ball when 53 (Colts linebacker Darius Leonard) got it from me. Two plays that I can’t make for us to have a chance to win, especially in a game like that where we are going to have to score a bunch of points."
Just like that, hope was gone.
Fueled by a 73-yard pass to Marvin Hall, the Lions briefly kept whispers of a comeback afloat with a quick-strike response. But Jones' second touchdown of the game, this one from 4 yards out, proved to be too little too late.
The Colts put the finishing touches on their victory, methodically driving 73 yards on 12 plays, while killing more than five minutes off the clock. Tight end Trey Burton, taking a direct snap, rushed it in from 2 yards out to cap the possession, putting the Colts up by the final margin with seven minutes to go.
It marked the third time the Lions have allowed an opponent to score 40 or more points this season.
Stafford finished 24 of 42 passing for 336 yards, with three touchdowns and the interception as the Lions managed just 29 rushing yards. Hall led the Lions with 113 yards on four catches.
Rivers was 23-of-33 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He was not intercepted.
The Lions will head back out on the road next week to meet the Minnesota Vikings, who upset the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to move to 2-5 on the season.