The Detroit Lions moved the ball at will for two quarters of Monday's eventual 35-17 blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers. After halftime, the same old Lions showed up.
"Yeah, we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot there," quarterback Jared Goff said, via the official game transcript. "We had a good thing going in the first half, and it was looking how we expected it to look, really. Yeah, just kept shooting ourselves in the foot in the second half."
Goff played well in the first half as he was kept clean by the offensive line, helping Detroit to a 17-14 halftime lead. Then it all fell apart.
The Lions ran just eight total plays in the third quarter, two that changed the entire complexion of the game. The first came on a wayward pass on 4th-and-1 with the Lions driving on their opening possession of the second half. Instead of running the ball, Detroit elected what turned out to be a difficult attempt to Quintez Cephus. Then, late in the third quarter, Goff fumbled a snap, leading to a third-straight Packers touchdown and the rout was on.
Goff added another interception on a poor throw on the move two drives later. The QB finished 26-of-36 passing for 246 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, a sack, and a fumble lost.
"The turnovers. That was the big thing," coach Dan Campbell said. "It wasn't like we couldn't run it. Every time offensively we struggle it's because we've shot ourselves in the foot. The one possession we didn't score on in the first half was our own doing. We had a holding call, we had a false start, we had an intentional grounding. And then you go into the second half and we had the fumbled snap, so that's a wasted snap. They fall on it. We had the interception, trying to make a play. Which I understand why he's trying to make a play, you're down that much. It's self-inflicted wounds. And then you reach a certain point where you're trying to continue to run your offense and be able to run it a little bit. Run the ball. But, yet, you're also pressed, pressed for time. We only have two timeouts. You're down three scores. And you kind of get put in a bind. That's not the world we want to live in."
For those not immersed in the Goff experience, Monday night was a microcosm. When protected well as Detroit did in the first half, Goff can make throws, move the offense efficiently and look really good. It's what keeps analysts and front-office people believing he can be a winning NFL QB. However, the moment pressure picks up, it all crumbles. The fumble was purely on the QB, his interception was a bad decision even if he was trying to make a play in a blowout, and the one sack he took came on a play where the ball popped out of his hands in the rain.
With Goff stumbling in the second half, the Lions' offense generated 86 yards on four drives before a final garbage-time drive made the box score look a little better.
Detroit's porous defense is going to put Goff and the offense in a spot where they need to be perfect to win games this season. They've played well at times through two contests but haven't put it together for four quarters against two potential playoff teams.
Monday's meltdown against Green Bay marked the fifth primetime game in which the Lions led an Aaron Rodgers team at halftime. Detroit lost all five.
Despite showing symptoms that they're the "Same Old Lions," Goff still believes in what Detroit is building.
"Yeah, it's a new crew now," Goff said. "Obviously, there has been history with that. I believe in the guys we have here. I believe in Dan. I believe in the staff... we believe this is a new regime and a new energy in the building. It's still early. Obviously, 0-2 is not where we want to be, but a lot of room to improve and a lot of wins to be had down the line."