The Detroit Lions tried their hardest to lose Sunday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Colts would not allow it. In stunning fashion, the Lions surrendered a 21-3 second quarter lead to narrowly win in Indy by a score of 39-35. The Lions had scored the go ahead touchdown with 4 minutes remaining to put them up 34-28, but the missed extra point by Matt Prater allowed the Colts some breathing room. The Colts drove the field to score as expected, leaving 37 seconds on the clock in the process. The difference though, is that the Colts made their extra point, making it a 35-34 Colts lead with those 37 seconds left. With the game seemingly over, Detroit did what they have done several times in the past. They used their three time outs, and every bit of that 37 seconds that they could to drive 50 yards into field goal range, allowing Prater a chance to redeem himself. With 4 seconds left, Prater made the field goal. Detroit led 37-35. The Colts tried to do some lateral mess in an attempt to break free and score the game winning touchdown but instead ended up giving Detroit 2 more points on a safety.
While the game was full of offense on both sides, some things stood out that concerned me about these Lions. First and foremost, their penchant for running up a big lead in the first half, just to blow that lead in the second half, is still there. Many will remember the San Diego game last season. Add to that the Dallas playoff game the year before and lets not forget about the Green Bay hail mary game. While Detroit won this game, they very well could have lost it. Their defense just could not hold up when it needed to. Their defensive line was not as good as advertised. Only Kerry Hyder had a sack (he had 2). The secondary was terrible, with everyone allowing big passing plays. While Luck is a good quarterback, there is no reason to have allowed 380 yards passing against him. Performances like that need to be stopped.
The offense showed some promise. While they did play against a beat up Colts secondary, they managed to protect Stafford and at the same time create a rushing attack. The Lions ran for over 100 yards as a team, and 4.8 yards per carry average which is better than they have ever done last season. Stafford was over 120 in quarterback rating in his first game knowing that Calvin Johnson will not be a part of the offense anymore. He showed that he can survive without Johnson by spreading the ball around to all of his receivers, running backs, and tight ends.
One big question remains for this team though. How will they play going further? They face better defenses (Minnesota), better rushing attacks (Minnesota) and better passing offenses (New Orleans) before the season ends. Can they hold up against those teams? Better yet, can they solve their problems soon enough to beat a young Tennessee team next week?