The Detroit Lions’ undefeated season came to an end Sunday at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-30.
The matchup between two undefeated teams was tied at 13 at halftime. Then the Lions and Chiefs combined to lose five fumbles in the third quarter. One of the Lions’ crucial fumbles came early in the third, when running back Kerryon Johnson fumbled at the 1-yard line. For a moment, the play appeared to be over. Then, Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland emerged from the pile with the ball and ran it back 100 yards for the score, and a 20-13 lead.
“They called it a fumble. We lost three or seven points, which turned into seven points for them. We lost by three points, so obviously it hurt,” Johnson said after the game. “Big play in the game. We had a lot of momentum going for us — kind of killed it. I take full responsibility for it.”
Johnson finished with a career-high 26 carries for 125 yards (4.8 avg.), and to its credit, Detroit fought back after Breeland’s touchdown and had the lead in the final minute. But the team can look back with frustration at a couple missed opportunities in the third quarter, when they had the ball inside the Kansas City 10-yard line and didn’t score.
The Lions took one of Kansas City’s fumbles and made it to the 5-yard line. Quarterback Matthew Stafford appeared to throw a touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay, but although Golladay got two feet down, he was not able to control the ball completely as he fell to the ground, and by the time he secured it, he was out of bounds. The play was ruled incomplete after a review.
On the next play, Stafford tried to scramble to his left and fumbled the ball away. He finished 21-34 for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was trying to do too much, probably. I probably should have just thrown it away a little bit earlier,” said Stafford on his fumble. “I was trying to buy a little bit of time. They only rushed three on the play. (No.) 91 (Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nandi) was kind of spying. They had us covered up initially. I tried to buy a little bit of time and just lost the ball moving too much.”
Considering Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did not throw a touchdown, finishing 24-42 for 325 yards, and Lions All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay did not play, Detroit played well in game many expected them to lose. But the team wanted zero parts of any moral victories. With a record of 2-1-1, they could easily be 5-0.
“There’s certainly some things in here to be really proud of and as we take a look at it, as we get into the bye week, we’ll find out things that we need to fix, and that will be a key part of it,” said head coach Matt Patricia. “We have to fix those things as we go forward. We’re going to go compete with anybody that is put in front of us, but we expect to win no matter who we play. We’re going out to play and compete and win, so as far as we’re concerned that’s what we’re trying to do.”
COVER PHOTO: Kory Woods