There’s heartbreak in Detroit for a second straight week.
Just four days removed from a last-minute loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions once again suffered defeat in painful fashion.
The 34-31 overtime loss to Houston runs the Lions’ record to 4-7, while the Texans improved to 10-1.
This wild game had no shortage of excitement or controversy. Before Texans’ kicker Shayne Graham booted the game-winning 32 yarder, future Hall of Famer Jason Hanson drilled a 47-yard field goal straight into the right upright.
Just before that, Graham missed a 51 yarder of his own.
On the first Lions possession of the overtime period, rookie wideout Ryan Broyles sparked Detroit’s offense with a 40-yard catch to get within feet of Hanson’s range.
On the very next play, Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew lost his third fumble of the season, costing Detroit a shot to go ahead or win the game.
Detroit fans wish the calamity stopped there.
Perhaps the wildest happening in this game occurred in the third quarter, just as Detroit opened a 24-14 lead. Houston running back Justin Forsett took the carry, got 8 yards or so, was tackled by Louis Delmas, then got back up and scored an 81-yard touchdown.
Upon seeing that Forsett’s knee and forearm both clearly touched the turf, head coach Jim Schwartz tossed his challenge flag. It was unnecessary to do so, as all scoring plays are now reviewed automatically under the new NFL rules.
Come to find out, not only is it a 15-yard penalty for throwing the challenge flag on a scoring play, but the play also cannot be reviewed as a result. Therefore, Forsett’s touchdown run counted, putting the Texans within three.
It was ‘Touchdown Seahawks’ all over again, and the Ford Field crowd is still booing.
The officials obviously botched the call by even allowing the play to continue despite Forsett clearly being down. But blame also has to be put on Schwartz for not knowing the rule and wrongly throwing the flag.
The real story here is how bad this rule is. How does one flag throw merit not only a 15-yard penalty, but also a potentially game-changing play?
The NFL has to look into this rule and evaluate it carefully.
Despite the final result and the frustration surrounding the team, the Lions played a pretty good game. They fought blow-for-blow with Houston from their opening drive up until the Texans tied the game with less than two minutes to play.
It’s unfortunate that the Lions found another way to lose, but there are good things to be taken away from this game too.
The Lions manage to sprinkle in enough glimmers of hope to keep Detroit watching every week. They continue finding ways to lose, while at the same time showing snippets of a team buried within that can play with anyone.
The first half of this game, in which Detroit scored 21 points, was the Lions’ best first half of the year. They ran the ball well enough to open up some holes in the passing game, which Matthew Stafford exploited effectively.
Stafford finished with 441 yards and a pair of TDs on 31-of-61 passing.
Stafford had a good game, but the Lions shouldn’t have abandoned the run late in the game. Both Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell scored touchdowns in the game and had kept Houston’s defense honest. Once the threat of the run was gone, J.J. Watt and the Texans’ defensive line pinned their ears back and bothered Stafford often.
This game, however, won’t be talked about because of those things.
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