The good news for the Lions on Sunday night was that they marched down the field repeatedly against the Steelers’ defense. The bad news is those marches kept ending short of the end zone.
In the Lions’ 20-15 loss to the Steelers, they gained 482 yards of total offense but were limited to just five field goals. The Lions became the first team in NFL history to gain at least 475 yards of offense, not have multiple turnovers, and still score less than 20 points.
The Lions were also just the second team in NFL history to gain 480 yards, hold their opponents to less than 21 points, and lose. And they were just the third team in NFL history to gain more than 480 yards and fail to score a touchdown.
Detroit coach Jim Caldwell twice decided to go for it on fourth down inside the Steelers’ 10-yard line, and both times the Lions failed to convert. Eschewing two easy field goals is hard not to second-guess when you lose by five points. For most teams, the first decision, going for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1, probably would have been the right call. But for a Lions team that has struggled all year in short yardage and had just lost its best run blocker, right tackle Rick Wagner, to an injury on the previous play, it was a baffling decision.
The Lions can at least say they had some company in playing well on offense but coming up short, as the Texans also gained more than 450 yards yesterday and lost. NFL teams gaining 450 or more yards of total offense are now 15-2 this season, with Detroit’s and Houston’s losses yesterday. But the Texans’ problem was that their defense couldn’t stop the Seahawks’ offense. The Lions’ problem was that their own offense kept stalling. That’s a tough loss to swallow.