DETROIT -- Detroit was backed up almost in its own end zone with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining. The Lions had 93 yards to go, two timeouts and a chance, if they could get into field goal range, to win.
What happened next didn’t work at all.
Detroit’s final offensive drive of the game fizzled, partially due to Cincinnati’s defense, different play calling because the Lions were almost in their own end zone and some conservative plays.
One of the most explosive offenses in the NFL managed one first down on the drive and incomplete passes on second and third downs following it, leading to the shanked Sam Martin punt that helped set up Cincinnati’s game-winning field goal for a 27-24 victory.
“We were in a tough spot,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “If we would have dropped back in a pass play on that first play, I would’ve been been in my own end zone. It’s a tough place.
“We were trying to get a little room. Obviously, with a tie ball game, you’re just trying to at least get a first down and get it out of there. We weren’t able to do that.”
Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who saw his first extended playing time of his career Sunday after injuries to tackles Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard, said the Bengals ran some different maneuvers within the defensive line.
“They were changing it up all game,” Waddle said. “It wasn’t like there was anything we weren’t prepared for. (But) they definitely changed it up.”
As they changed pressures up front, Detroit’s receivers also saw good coverage from the Bengals’ secondary. Receiver Kris Durham said the Lions were running things they noticed during the week against the Bengals’ two-minute drill.
But nothing the Lions tried after a Ryan Broyles catch over the middle gave them a small amount of room to drive worked at all. Broyles said being in the no-huddle means having to read coverages on the fly and it was possible Cincinnati changed up some of their coverages on the final drive but “that’s expected when you go no-huddle.”
Whatever it was, Cincinnati did enough to stop Detroit.
“We had two timeouts, so if we can get a first down right there, we can go put ourselves in position to go hit the game-winner rather than give up the game-winner," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. "So we wanted to stay aggressive right there.
"Unfortunately, we didn't do a good enough job of executing at the end of the game."
Detroit never received the opportunity to use its timeouts. Stafford threw an incomplete pass on second down and then was pressured by Cincinnati on third down, leading to the punt and then the game-winning field goal for Mike Nugent.