Sunday, October 14, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Lions 26, Eagles 23
By Kevin Seifert
PHILADELPHIA -- Some thoughts on a looooong game Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
What it means: The Lions avoided a 1-4 start with a stunning comeback, reversing a 23-13 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to win in overtime. They are now 2-3 and can get back into the NFC North race next Monday against the Chicago Bears.
What I liked: Quarterback Matthew Stafford overcame one of the worst three quarters of his career to notch his second fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of the season and the seventh since joining the Lions in 2009. (He has a total of eight game-winning drives.) Unofficially, Stafford threw for 220 yards after about the midway point of the fourth quarter. He ran for one fourth-quarter touchdown, threw for another and got the Lions in position for Jason Hanson's field goal with two completions.
What I didn't like: Stafford and the Lions' offense had one of their worst-ever collective performances before the game turned wild. Before that point, Stafford had completed 10 of 28 passes for 150 yards. He missed at least a half-dozen open receivers and seemed antsy against the Eagles' pass rush. The Lions didn't convert a third down until midway through the fourth quarter, and receiver Calvin Johnson had trouble getting open against Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and lost a touchdown in the fourth quarter on an offensive pass interference penalty. Johnson had one catch for 28 yards before the fourth quarter.
What I didn't like II: The Lions had 16 penalties accepted against them, including an unofficial nine of the pre-snap variety -- false starts or encroachment. That's an absolutely inexcusable lapse of concentration coming out of a bye.
What I liked II: The Lions busted a coverage on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin with five minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. But otherwise, I thought the Lions' defense did a really nice job harassing quarterback Michael Vick and also limiting the big-play capabilities of the Eagles' running game. The Lions doubled their season's takeaway total with three, including an interception by safety Louis Delmas in his regular-season debut. They unofficially hit Vick nine times after the throw and had nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the running game. Sacks by defensive end Cliff Avril and Nick Fairley on the first two plays of overtime set up the Lions' game-winning possession.
What I'm curious to know more about: A pair of penalties on a fourth-quarter extra point allowed the Lions to kick off from the Eagles' 45-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Eagles held a 16-13 lead at the time, and Lions coach Jim Schwartz elected to have the strong-legged Jason Hanson kick deep. Was that a missed opportunity for an onside kick or a squib? At worst, the Eagles would be taking over around their 35-yard line if an onside kick failed.
Dirty Laundry: Referee Bill Vinovich's crew called a total of 25 penalties and ejected one player, the Eagles' Fletcher Cox, during a game that lasted nearly four hours. It was Vinovich's first game as an NFL referee since 2006, according to zebras.com. He was heading the crew usually led by Scott Green, according to the website.
Injury report: The Lions finished the game with two of their top five defensive backs on the sideline. Cornerback Jacob Lacey, who supplanted rookie Bill Bentley in the starting lineup, suffered a concussion in the second half. And Bentley did not return after suffering a second-half shoulder injury. Rookie Jonte Green and safety Erik Coleman both got snaps in the nickel defense as a result.
What's next: The Lions will play at Soldier Field on Oct. 22.