Burning questions - questionable strategy on the Lions’ last two possessions, the consecutive-games streak of
Q. The Lions had a chance to take a commanding lead with 1st-and-goal at the Packers’ 10-yard line with a 17-14 lead and 5:21 left. Two running plays by
A. I’ll answer that with a question. Is it a mistake to throw the ball at least once on 1st-and-goal to a 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver whose nickname is Megatron and is one of the two or three best players in the NFL?
That’s nothing against anybody else - any back or receiver on the Lions’ roster. But
I understand running the ball. The Lions gashed the Packers on their first TD on consecutive running plays by Leshoure - 10 yards on the first to the one, and the TD from the one on the second.
But the game and any realistic shred of making the playoffs were on the line, and if you’re going to go down, go down with your best. The defensive back who can match up physically with Johnson, even in double coverage, has not been created.
Johnson said all the right things after the game. That’s typical of him.
"It’s not unusual,” he said about not getting the ball. “The coverage kind of dictates what happens a lot of times."
Too many times, if you ask me.
Q. After Green Bay’s TD made it 21-20, the Lions had the ball at their 25 and needed to get into field-goal range. Stafford threw four straight incomplete passes - to
Once again, what about Calvin Johnson?
A. Same question. Same answer. When your best player doesn't get the ball, and the alternative isn't working, something's wrong with the plan.
Q. On the pass to Young in the end zone, the fans and some Lions were looking for a pass-interference penalty. Did the officials miss a call?
A. There was contact between Young and cornerback Casey Hayward, but it didn't look like interference. Young was lined up in the slot to the left. He cut inside in the end zone and made contact with Hayward before breaking to his left. No call was the right call.
Q. Jeff Backus went out in the first half with a hamstring injury. He didn't play in the second half. Backus has started 186 consecutive regular season games and one in last season's playoffs. Is his streak in jeopardy on Thanksgiving Day?
A. Nothing Backus does would surprise me. He has played in every game since the Lions drafted him in 2001, so obviously he has played with pain and injuries. But a hamstring limits a player's mobility.
Not finishing the game means the injury was serious. Don't count him out for Thursday. The Lions needed him at left tackle.
A. He struggled a little. The Packers attacked him with blitzes, which is to be expected. Reiff has gotten considerable playing time as a sixth lineman, but that's a lot different than lining up on the line and being faced with adjustments that have to be made on the fly.
He's a good prospect with a good career ahead of him, but there are growing pains.
Q. After the Lions kicked a field goal to take a 26-20 lead, the Packers went 82 yards on only six plays. On a 3rd-and-1, Randall Cobb caught a 22-yard pass to give the Packers the lead. Did the Lions' secondary misplay the ball on his catch?
A. Yes. Cornerback
Coach Jim Schwartz put it this way: "We've got to find the ball in the air. We've got to be able to get that ball down. That's a great opportunity. The quarterback just threw it straight up in the air. He just threw a jump ball in that situation, and we've got to be able to come down with it."
Q. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson had an argument on the sideline that was caught on camera by the Fox network cameras. Is that a bad sign?
A. It's frustration coming out, and it's a bad sign. Everyone, coaches included, has to know that someone is always looking. In this age of social media, a lot of it is anti-social, and anyone - including retired army generals and the head of the CIA - can become ensnared.
But whether it was seen on TV or not, coaches arguing is not good. Even if players won't comment on it, you know they saw it or heard about it, and there's probably more to the issue than one flareup during a game.
Q. Final thought. The Lions are home for Thanksgiving against Houston. What has the Lions' record done to the luster of the game?
A. It's still a big day and a fun day, but a lot of the fun has gone out of the Lions' season. That's the same of what's happened. This team should be contending for a playoff berth, not preparing to spoil some other team's season.