Lions can do nothing right in blowout loss to Patriots

Detroit News

Foxborough, Mass. — After suffering three close losses by a combined 10 points the first month of the season, the Detroit Lions were thoroughly outclassed in every way by the New England Patriots, who sent the Lions both bumbling and limping into the team’s bye after delivering a 29-0 thrashing at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

For the modest improvements made by Detroit’s defense, the league’s highest-scoring offense fell flat, getting shut out for the first time since Week 11 of the 2020 season, while failing to convert on six fourth-down tries and committing a pair of traditional turnovers the Patriots turned into 10 points.

It’s the first time in NFL history a team failed to convert a fourth down with six or more tries in a game. The 1995 New England Patriots held the previous mark, going 0-5 in a loss to the Denver Broncos.

The Lions took the ball to open the game, but coughed it up after seven plays when running back Jamaal Williams was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1 at Detroit’s 45-yard line, handing the Patriots a short field.

With the gift, the Patriots were able to work it into the red zone, but stalled, settling for a 37-yard field goal to take the early lead. The game was stopped for more than nine minutes early in the possession when Lions safety Saivon Smith suffered a neck injury and had to be taken off the field via ambulance.

Detroit looked primed to respond, working deep into Patriots territory on the ensuing possession, but quarterback Jared Goff’s pass for tight end T.J. Hockenson down the left sideline was intercepted by rookie defensive back Jack Jones at the 3-yard line.

BOX SCORE: Patriots 29, Lions 0

Thanks to a 49-yard run up the gut Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots were able to add another another short field goal by Nick Folk, extending their lead to six early in the second quarter.

Unable to take advantage of a 47-yard kickoff return by Maurice Alexander, the Lions punted the ball to the Patriots, but quickly got it back when receiver Nelson Agholor had a pass deflect off his hands across the middle, providing safety DeShon Elliott the opportunity to intercept the pass.

Things truly started going off the rails for the Lions during the series when running back Craig Reynolds lost seven yards on a third down, pushing the team to the fringes of field goal range. Instead of attempting the 50-yarder, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-9. Under pressure, Goff tried to roll from the pocket but had the ball knocked loose from behind by Pontiac native Matthew Judon (Grand Valley State). That fumble was scooped up by Patriots safety Kyle Dugger, who returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.

After the Lions countered by going three-and-out, the Patriots added another field goal as time expired in the first half, entering the locker room up 16-0.

Detroit’s defense continued to bend without breaking to start the third quarter, stopping the Patriots in the red zone for the third time in three tries, but another Folk field goal extended the home team’s edge to three scores.

Meanwhile, Detroit’s offense continued to flounder, turning it over on downs for the third time when Amon-Ra St. Brown was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-two throw from Goff.

Eight plays later, the Patriots offense finally found the end zone, taking advantage of a badly depleted secondary that not only lost Smith, but cornerbacks Will Harris, Jeff Okudah and safeties DeShon Elliott and Ifeatu Melifonwu to injury through the course of the game.

On first down from Detroit’s 24, rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe delivered a scoring strike to receiver Jakobi Myers, between the coverage of Bobby Price and Chase Lucas.

Detroit threatened to end the shutout, quickly driving into New England territory behind a pair of explosive gains, but after having a touchdown pass to Tom Kennedy nullified by an offensive pass-interference infraction, the team once again turned it over on downs when St. Brown couldn’t hold on to a Goff pass at the goal line.

The Lions managed to force a punt for the first time in eight quarters, but again turned it over on downs in New England territory. And the Patriots translated that into three more points, making it Detroit’s worst shutout since 2001 when the eventual NFC Champions St. Louis Rams blasted the Lions, 35-0, in front of a nationally televised audience on Monday Night Football.

With the defeat, the Lions have dropped three straight and fall to 1-4 on the season. The team will be off next week before returning for a road game with Dallas on Oct. 23. The Patriots move to 2-3 on the year.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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