Lions trampled by Colts, playoff push gets put on hold

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
| The Detroit News

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 steak alive, Detroit scored first, only to see Indianapolis go on to dominate the first half. 

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. Quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with Marvin Jones on a 25-yard touchdown out of play-action, putting the Lions up 7-0. 

BOX SCORE: Colts 41, Lions 21 ts

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, 58-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. 

The Colts 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. 

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. 

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. 

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 13:34 remaining. 

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 78 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 one interception as the Lions managed just 29 rushing yards. Hall gained 113 yards on four catches.

Rivers was 23 of 33 for 262 yards and the three touchdowns. He was not intercepted.

The team will head back out on the road next week to meet the Minnesota Vikings.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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