Following their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars win over the Miami Dolphins in London, the Detroit Lions are now the lone winless team in the NFL this season. And unlike their losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings, they never had a chance. The Lions fell to the Bengals 34-11 Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, in a display that will not be fondly remembered. In my first edition of The Kneecap Recap, I’d like to look at where this game puts each team in the standings at the time of this writing, a few top performers for both teams, a big takeaway from both teams, before giving an overall closing thought.
Detroit Lions: 0-6, 4th in NFC North (next week: @ LA Rams)
Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2, 2nd in AFC North (next week: @ Ravens)
Lions Takeaway: Frustration Abounds
In my Lions-Bengals preview, I said that the fight that this Lions team had would prevent them from being well and truly blown out. In actuality, there wasn’t much fight from this Lions team. They replaced their fight with something else: frustration. The Detroit Lions were frustrated today, and it was clear no matter where you looked. Anytime the FOX NFL cameras focused on head coach Dan Campbell, you could see it in his expression. When you saw the Lions’ offense stall out, you could see it in their body language. Hell, anytime the cameras focused on the fans, you could see it on their faces.
And I guess I should have seen it coming. If there’s any team in the NFL you’d expect to be frustrated, it’d have to be the Detroit Lions. After all, what team wouldn’t carry some frustration with them after losing twice in three weeks on last-second 50+ yard field goals, one of which was an NFL record? Today, it just seemed like the team couldn’t bottle it up any longer. They wore their frustration on their faces, in the way they carried themselves, but they didn’t channel it into their play. And as a result, they got blown out.
Ultimately, this loss comes down to their failure to execute once again. They were consistent today, which may be a first, but they were consistently bad. They failed to execute on offense most of the game, until offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn just said to hell with it and instructed his receivers to run five-yard routes for most of the second half. And even, the offense struggled to execute much of anything. The defense, while better than the offense, eventually broke down, allowing the game to get away.
Bengals Takeaway: Exactly What They Needed
This may sound like I’m down on the Bengals or their performance, but I assure you I’m not. It sounds boring to say, but this is exactly what this team needed all around. After narrowly escaping a then-winless-Jaguars team and losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Green Bay Packers, this kind of win is what the Bengals needed. They were strong on both sides of the ball and never took their foot off the gas. Unlike the Packers, who trailed at half to this same Lions team, they were never in danger of losing.
In my preview, I said the biggest mistake the Bengals could make was underestimating this Lions team. And it seems like they agreed. Taking a 10-0 lead into the half, the Bengals poured it on in the second half, scoring 24 total points to secure the win. Even when head coach Zac Taylor sat Burrow and had Brandon Allen under center, they kept pushing. And it was Allen’s TD pass to wideout Auden Tate that kept the Lions and their fans from having delusions of a comeback.
This is what good teams do. Good teams should be able to face a team like the Lions and win comfortably. And that’s exactly what the Bengals did. They have a huge test next week against the Ravens, but they’ll celebrate this one tonight.
I am not under any delusions of this actually happening. I don’t believe it’s even under consideration. And I really don’t want this to appear as me jumping on the bandwagon. However, as I sat back at halftime and I considered Jared Goff’s 38-yard first-half performance, I wondered what it is the Lions coaching staff sees in Goff that they don’t see in backup David Blough. He certainly won’t light the world on fire, but I feel confident that Blough will at least see open receivers and/or feel confident enough to throw further than five yards down the field more than once per game.
The Lions are on the road next week to face their greatest quarterback in franchise history. A man who’s thriving with the Los Angeles Rams in a way he never was given a chance to in Detroit. I’ll obviously have clearer thoughts about the Matthew Stafford Derby, if I may borrow a soccer term, later on in the week when it comes time for the preview. However, I don’t see an outcome that doesn’t involve Stafford unleashing years of frustration with this organization onto their defense.
I’ll see you all later this week for The Hunt For Kneecaps Preview.
Featured Photo Credit: Daniel Mears/Detroit News