They knew how smooth Green is running his routes, which is part of the deception that makes him one of the best receivers in the NFL. Then on Sunday, none of that mattered, all the work Detroit put in meant nothing.
A.J. Green beat Chris Houston for an 82-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Green double moved the Lions all day anyway, catching six passes for 155 yards and sometimes being extremely wide open for an NFL receiver.
“We didn’t want to give up big plays to [Green],” Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz said. “He goes and makes a huge pay early in the game and it was something that was a big point of emphasis all week.
“All his double moves and things like that, stuff we worked on all week and we didn’t execute well enough in that.”
It started from the first drive, when cornerback Chris Houston bit on a Green double move, resulting in an 82-yard touchdown. It continued throughout the game and it didn’t matter whether Houston, Rashean Mathis or Darius Slay drew the coverage.
Green found a way to get open. Found a way to catch the ball.
The double moves made Houston less aggressive.
“I’m getting these moves every week,” Houston said. “I guess because I’m used to breaking on things aggressively and they double move me every week. ... I put this loss on me. Not nobody else. I put it on me.”
He wasn’t the only one who had some issues, though. Cincinnati’s receivers and tight ends were open throughout the day, allowing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to complete 24 of 34 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite the struggles, there is some confidence within Detroit’s defensive backs. Mathis broke up three passes before leaving the game with a groin injury. Its safeties continued to play well, with Glover Quin breaking up what would have been another long Green touchdown and Louis Delmas making a key third down stop on a screen.
“Right now we are confident in our guys, we are confident in what we are doing and I mean, we’re going to keep working,” Quin said. “It’s a long season. Just keep going, keep going. It’s all about fighting through all the little small things, all the little nicks and knacks and just keep playing and keep getting better.
“We still got, what, nine games left. Just keep working, keep working. The goal is to keep working and be as good as we can down the stretch and toward the end of the season hopefully get into the playoffs. So we have to keep working on what we’re doing.”
After Green and Dalton exploited the Detroit secondary, however, the Lions know exactly where that work needs to come.