By Michael Ferro
Despite their tough loss last Monday, the Houston Texans have not lost a game at home yet this year. While the Detroit Lions had a confidence-boosting three consecutive wins heading into the Lone Star State, they quickly learned that the Texans wanted to rebound quickly. From the start, Texans QB Brock Osweiler had his offense rolling over the Detroit defense and surging Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had trouble moving down the field.
In the end, Detroit was not able to mount one of their signature comebacks and ended up losing to Houston 20-13. While Detroit was riding high, they now have to fight back from a tough emotional loss to face some intimidating opponents in the coming weeks.
From the start, the Detroit offense was anemic and struggled to have any impact on the field. Stafford hit many of his marks, but Detroit suffered once again from dropped balls (they lead the NFL with 17). The Lions were stuffed in the secondary and on key third downs, they failed to capitalize time and time again. Down the line, when Detroit had a chance to fight back in the final quarter, things just fell apart despite the opportunities being there for the Lions.
Though Stafford went 27-41 for 240 yards and a touchdown, some of the magic on display in the past three weeks was gone. It wasn’t an ideal outing, but Stafford was clearly not the sole player to blame for this loss. One bright note was seeing the return to form for tight end Eric Ebron, who had a career-high seven receptions for 79 yards.
While Detroit’s defense was dominant on the first drive by Houston, the Texans recalibrated and had their way from then on. Throughout the game, the Lions’ defense displayed a few bright spots, including some pressure on Osweiler. Despite those few rare plays, the Texans ran roughshod over the Lions and completed a number of major plays for big yardage to keep Detroit’s defense on the field for long stretches.
In the end, Detroit’s secondary failed on numerous occasions and all too often Osweiler was able to hit his receivers for big gains. This is especially disappointing for the Lions as the Texans’ offense had struggled mightily last week.
Special Teams: B+
Reliable Detroit kicker Matt Prater had a chance in the first quarter to give the Lions a 3-0 lead after the offense failed on two consecutive drives. Unfortunately, it was a rare miss from 49 yards and bounced off the goalpost. Prater redeemed himself shortly thereafter with a 47-yard field goal going into halftime to get the Lions on the board for the first time.
Detroit kick returner Andre Roberts did put on an impressive display with five kickoff returns totaling 134 yards (including one return for 42 yards).
Coming from behind during their last three exciting wins, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has done a decent job (though much of this should be credited to Stafford). In Houston, Caldwell made a number of questionable decisions when it came to the game plan. The coach goofed big time when he failed to throw the challenge flag after a Texans fumble recovered by the Lions that was ruled an incomplete catch on the field. It may not have had a huge impact down the line, but it was just one instance of Caldwell’s failure during this match up.
One major mistake from Caldwell was the decision to try an onside kick with nearly three minutes left in the game and the Lions only down by a touchdown. All in all, a very disappointing effort from the Lions’ coaching staff.
Up Next: On Sunday, November 6, the Lions travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Born and bred in Detroit, Michael A. Ferro was awarded the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award and received a degree in Creative Writing from Michigan State University. He now resides in rural Ann Arbor. Additional writing can be found at AXS.com and on twitter @MichaelFerro.