- 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.
Past plays: No. 10 -- PI in Arizona; No. 9 -- Reggie Bush’s screen vs. Minnesota; No. 8 -- Calvin Johnson gets the drops; No. 7 -- Jeremy Ross’ snow-covered return; No. 6 -- Matthew Stafford’s pick-six.
Today, we present Play No. 5
When: Oct. 20, 2013
Where: Ford Field, where the Lions lost to Cincinnati on the final play of the game, 27-24.
What happened: Mike Nugent made a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bengals the win. It was set up by a muffed 28-yard Sam Martin punt with 34 seconds left that gave the Bengals the ball on their own 49-yard line. Detroit didn’t help Martin by not moving the ball much during their final drive of the game, stalling at their own 23-yard line. After Martin’s poor punt, Cincinnati gained 15 yards in two plays to set up the Nugent field goal.
What they said about it: Wide receiver Kris Durham: “They came in and they finished. And we didn’t.”
Matthew Stafford, when asked if it was one of the toughest losses of his career: “Yep.”
Safety Glover Quin: “It’s just one of those things where you are hoping it doesn’t go in. You don’t want the game to end on them making a 50-yard field goal. We would love to make that kick. It was a heavyweight battle, a heavyweight fight and we took some punches, they took some punches. They just got the last punch in.”
How the Lions’ season was impacted: At the time, it didn’t seem like a massive deal, especially after the Lions beat Dallas the next week. But it really became a precursor for what would happen to Detroit all season long. A critical error late in the game would turn into a loss by a game-winning field goal. The critical error in this one was Martin’s muffed punt, but it led to a short field for the Bengals and the Nugent field goal. In retrospect, this game, and the opportunities missed during it, should have been more of an indicator of what would eventually come for Detroit.