The Detroit Lions trailed by five points early in the fourth quarter Sunday at Lambeau Field when they achieved first-and-goal at the Green Bay Packers' 6-yard line. They had slowly nipped away at a 14-point lead and, as it turned out, had encountered their best chance of taking a lead in hopes of winning their first game in Wisconsin in nearly 20 years.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan called three consecutive shots into the end zone against a Packers defense that stayed back in coverage while rushing no more than four players.
On first down, the Lions tried what should be their best red zone play this season: Play-action to tailback Jahvid Best, and then a high pass to receiver Calvin Johnson. The Packers had Johnson double-teamed with cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins, although Collins was a bit late. Shaun Hill's pass, however, was too high for Johnson and glanced off his fingertips.
On second down, the Packers tripled-teamed Johnson in the middle of the field. Hill rolled to his left and threw a late pass to receiver Bryant Johnson on the left side of the end zone. Cornerback Tramon Williams recovered to knock away the ball. On the game broadcast, analyst Brian Billick suggested Hill could have run the ball for a score. Based on the replay, I would say it was possible but debatable.
On third down, Hill again found no open receivers. This time, he floated a pass to the back of the end zone for tight end Tony Scheffler. Williams broke up that pass as well.
The Lions settled for a 24-yard field goal from Jason Hanson, their final score. It's true they had one more possession that could have given them the winning score, but in retrospect, failing to get a touchdown on first down from the 6-yard line was the decisive moment of Sunday's game.