Detroit Lions Week 3 report card: Self-inflicted wounds lead to fourth quarter collapse

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions fell on Sunday by a score of 28-24 to the Minnesota Vikings, in large part due to a cascade of errors late in the game.

Through three quarters, and even into the last 10 minutes of the game, the Detroit Lions were in a position to win on Sunday. Up by a score of 24-14, things were looking up as Dan Campbell closed in on his first road win. Then an avalanche of self-inflicted wounds struck Detroit as the lead evaporated. Ultimately a last-minute touchdown pass by Kirk Cousins lifted the Vikings to a comeback win.

The fact the Lions lost is not the most frustrating part, it’s how they lost. This game wasn’t the Vikings rising to the occasion and stealing the game from the Lions, it was Detroit giving it to them.

After the Vikings closed the lead to three points, Detroit had an offensive drive deep into Vikings territory. On fourth and short from the Vikings’ 30-yard line, Detroit went for it rather than attempting a 47-yard field goal. The attempt was unsuccessful, and they turned the ball over on downs. That attempt in a vacuum is perfectly okay, Detroit was playing aggressively all game.

The problem that appeared though was on the following drive, when Detroit was faced with a 4th-and-four with a chance to put the game way. This time, they elected to try a 54-yard field goal to push the lead to six. The attempt was no good, and it gave the Vikings a short field to drive down the field to score the game-winning touchdown.

Those are two isolated incidents, but they are symptomatic of the larger issue Detroit’s coaching staff generated for the team.

Let’s get into the report card for this Lions collapse.

Detroit Lions Week 3 report card

Run offense: 3.5/5 stars

The run game continues to be the strength of this team. Even with D’Andre Swift only carrying the ball seven times, Detroit picked up 139 yards on the ground. The charge was led by Jamaal Williams, who ran the ball 20 times for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Williams continues to be a model of consistency, acting as a hammer in the run game between the tackle.

The offensive line did its job up front, though issues later in the game stemmed from the Vikings stacking the box more often. As a result the Lions’ yards per carry average dipped, but overall they put up strong numbers on the ground for the third week in a row.

Pass offense: 3/5 stars

The attack through the air was much more balanced this week. As opposed to the strategy of force-feeding Amon-Ra St. Brown, multiple receivers stayed involved all game. Unfortunately because of that, St. Brown’s streak ended at eight straight games with at least eight catches.

However, Jared Goff had a mostly positive day. Towards the end the play calling was questionable, but Goff did his job in this game. He was a lot more comfortable in the pocket, even evading pressure successfully multiple times. When he did leave the pocket, Goff usually was able to reset and find a receiver downfield to get the ball to.

Best offensive player: WR Josh Reynolds

After the opening drive, it seemed like DJ Chark was going to be the Lions receiver having a big game Sunday. But it was in fact Reynolds, who stepped up as the downfield target for Goff. Reynolds finished the game with six catches on 10 targets for 96 yards.

Some of his catches were really impressive. Reynolds had to stretch out for a catch multiple times,  but his connection with Goff looked as strong as it did down the stretch last year.

Worst offensive player: TE T.J. Hockenson

At what point do the alarm bells go off regarding Hockenson? His receiving yards have dropped every game this season, from 38 in Week 1 to 26 in Week 2, now down to just 18 on Sunday against the Vikings.

His usage has been extremely limited, he’s struggled with drops early in the season, and it seems like Goff doesn’t trust him as much as he used to. Something needs to change with Hockenson’s usage because he needs to be taking advantage of the softer matchups he’s been receiving. He did catch a touchdown on Sunday though

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