Detroit Lions could have tried a 65-yard field goal vs. Bears. Here’s why they didn’t

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Who doesn’t love trying to break an NFL record?

No one. Even if that person already holds the record.

Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater could have had a chance to break his own NFL field goal record of 64 yards at the end of the first half of Sunday’s 34-30 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

But with 11 seconds left in the second quarter and the Lions at the Chicago 47-yard line, they decided against letting Prater try a 65-yard field goal and instead opted for two Hail Mary attempts that fell incomplete as time expired.

It turns out there was some solid reasoning behind the decision to avoid the field goal. Namely, the Lions didn’t want to give dangerous Bears returner Cordarrelle Patterson a chance to run back a short miss by Prater, who has missed seven kicks beyond 40 yards this season.

“We’re trying to limit the number of times that (Patterson) touches the ball,” Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs said Tuesday during a conference call, “so finding an extra opportunity to give him one there when we have eight offensive linemen on the field that would potentially have to make that tackle, I mean those are all things that go into that decision.

“And Prater would say that he might not put it through the uprights, but it’s not going to be short. He’s probably right. But any chance there, the negative there of a miss was potentially a lot greater than your average missed field goal. The Hail Mary was pretty close. It was a decision we made and the worst outcome was an incomplete pass and we got into the locker room.”

Silent sack

Coaches and players usually can’t wait to finish their conference calls with reporters, but Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin prolonged his own presser Tuesday after no one asked him about Everson Griffen’s sack of Mitchell Trubisky.

“Nobody talked about Everson’s sack,” he said. “You guys just went right by that one.”

Yep. Kind of like the way Griffen went right by left tackle Charles Leno with one of the sweetest inside spin moves you’ll ever see.

Undlin was clearly excited to discuss the play because it came at a pivotal point and was a textbook example of a great rush working in concert with great coverage.

“That was a perfect example of what it looks like when you play coverage on the back end that’s tight and you have a pass rush that is moving and is going,” Undlin said. “You guys will have to look at the coverage again, but the quarterback looks out of there and then you get a great pass rush out of him.”

The Lions were down, 30-20, with 5:30 left and the Bears faced third-and-4 from the Detroit 49 when Griffen beat Leno clean to sack Trubisky. That was the second straight three-and-out for the defense and gave the Lions’ offense the ball with plenty of time to score on the next possession and begin the comeback. On the next defensive series, Romeo Okwara’s strip sack set up the winning touchdown drive from the Chicago 7.

“I think that did have effect on them,” Undlin said. “The next drive they started to feel those guys coming a little bit. Anyways, I didn’t want to let you off the hook without saying something about Everson’s sack.”

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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