- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the next two weeks, we will look at 10 critical plays that shaped the Detroit Lions season in one way or another.
Not all of them will be bad and certainly, with the way the Lions cratered to a 7-9 finish, will not all be good. And some may be have just been fantastic plays.
And as always when it comes to these sorts of lists, this is subjective and are plays, for good or bad, that stuck out to me when I made this list. Agree or disagree vehemently, let’s chat about it. Oh, and we’ll be going in reverse order from 10 to 1.
Today, we present No. 8.
When: Dec. 16, 2013
What happened: Twice on third downs, with the Lions driving in the first half of a critical game against Baltimore, Calvin Johnson did what he so rarely does -- he dropped the ball. The first came when he was wide open on a third-and-15 in Baltimore territory that would have converted a first down. The second came in the final two minutes of the first half, where Johnson had the ball hit him in the hands and pop out, where a catch would have moved the Lions into Baltimore territory. Both destroyed drives.
What they said about it: Former Lions coach Jim Schwartz: “As much as we say Megatron and things like that, there’s still a human element to this game and you’re not going to catch every single one. Every single pass isn’t going to be perfect. We didn’t play perfect in any phase of the game, no team ever does. But we didn’t make enough plays to win and they did.”
How the Lions’ season was impacted: The drops killed two drives in a game Detroit had to win to continue to be in good position for the playoffs. It might not be fair to single out two drops in one game by the man considered the best receiver in the NFL, but he had a season-high in drops this season, with nine. The Lions dropped 10 more passes (46) than any other team in the NFL. So his struggles in a huge game signified many of the thematic problems for the Lions this season.