It was the best game of the week in the NFL. At least, it was supposed to be.
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions 25-19, handing the Lions their first loss and improving the 49ers to 5-1 in a game that could be an NFC playoff preview. But here’s hoping that if they do meet again in the playoffs, both teams turn in a better performance.
Referee Mike Carey and his crew had a long day in a game that lasted well over three and a half hours. In addition to the crew’s inability to figure out the Calvin Johnson rule, there were a number of questionable calls, including ruling Matthew Stafford’s forward progress stopped in the end zone for a safety, and a bad horse-collar tackle penalty against the Lions. The 49ers, however, bore the brunt of the plethora of penalties, picking up 15 for 120 yards. The Lions had six for 54 yards.
Aside from a huge day for Frank Gore, neither team got much from its offensive playmakers. The winning quarterback, Alex Smith had just 125 passing yards. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had 293 yards, but it took him 50 passes to get there, and he missed several opportunities and had some awkward sidearm throws.
Jason Hanson missed a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter, giving the 49ers good field position and just enough time to set up David Akers for a 55-yard attempt on the last play of the first half, which he made. In a game that would be decided by six points, that exchange was critical.
Overall, this was not a great game, and it was a reminder that while they’re much improved, the Lions are not a great team. For as good as the Lions’ start was, the 49ers are the team more likely to make noise in January.