With 5:19 left to go in the game with the Lions leading the New York Jets 20-10, there was a hush sound from Ford Field. Lions QB Matthew Stafford laid on the ground holding his right shoulder. He would not return to the game as it was the same shoulder injury that sidelined him for 5 games. Backup QB Drew Stanton replaced Stafford, but could not move the chains. After the Lions punted, Jets QB Mark Sanchez engineered a six play, 60 yard drive capped off with the Jets QB scoring on a 1 yard TD run. The bad news - the drive only took 1:40 off the game clock. With 2:46 left to go in the game, the Lions needed to make only one first down to win the game as the Jets were down to one timeout and the two minute warning.
At the two minute morning mark, the Lions were facing a 3rd down and 6 situation on their own 38 yard line. The Jets were now out of timeouts. Stanton took the snap and short hopped a failed pass attempt to RB Jerome Felton which stopped the clock. No first down but worst was the game clock stopped. If they just ran the ball instead on 3rd down, the Jets would have gotten the ball back with aournd 1:00 left with no timeouts. Instead, they had 1:40 left and used the whole time to drive down and kicked the game tying field goal. The Jets went on to win in OT 23-20.
Things were going well for the Lions until Stafford got hurt. They had a 10 point lead as the offense was clicking despite the Jets Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis shutting down the Lions leading receiver, Calvin Johnson. A win against the Jets would have validated that the Lions have turned the corner and finally gain some respectability. Instead, they will limp into Buffalo next week without possibly Stafford as well as their franchise FG kicker Jason Hanson. Hanson got injured in the 3rd quarter while attempting a field goal as the Jets ran into him. Lions DT Ndamukong Suh tried kicking an extra point, but hit the post and missed the extra point. Understanding the kicker was hurt, but why was Suh out there – shouldn’t they have tried a 2 point conversion? That missed extra point allowed the Jets to only have to attempt a field goal at the end of the game instead of a touchdown.
The wheels came off when Stafford went down. Not only did the Lions had bad game clock management in the final two minutes, but Lions veteran LB Julian Petersen hit Jets RB LaDaniel Thomlinson out of bounds putting the Jets into field goal range to tie the game. So many mistakes down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how the the young Lions move forward after such a devastating loss.
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Written by Bob Ballard