4th quarter letup sinks Detroit Lions again under head coach Matt Patricia
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Matt Patricia’s tenure in Detroit has been marked by fourth-quarter collapses.
The Lions lost a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 27-23 season-opening setback against Chicago at Ford Field, where fans likely would have booed the home team if the pandemic didn’t keep them away.
Patricia’s problems in the final quarter have contributed to his 9-23-1 record as a first-time NFL head coach. And if Patricia can’t figure out how to help Detroit get and hold leads, his third season with the franchise will probably be his last.
Lions ownership retained general manager Bob Quinn and Patricia for this season, but their jobs are in jeopardy if the team does not at least contend for a spot in the playoffs.
The Lions lost seven of 12 games last year after blowing leads in the fourth, making it logical for some of them to think this season is starting to look a lot like the last one.
“We actually have to make sure it doesn’t creep in,” Patricia said Monday. “Sometimes maybe you hear it too much from the outside world, then you start to think, ‘Is that the case?” But it’s not the case for us inside.
“So right now for us, we have to make sure we understand it was Week 1 and we got to improve Week 2.”
It won’t be easy for Detroit to bounce back Sunday because it plays the Green Bay Packers on the road after they opened the season with a 43-34 win over Minnesota.
“We’ve seen that we have a lot of potential and talent, but we just have to finish games,” offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.
From Sunday, much was made of running back D’Andre Swift dropping a pass in the end zone with 6 seconds left, but his coach and teammates are trying to downplay it while rallying around the rookie.
“To think that we didn’t win the game because of his play is total inaccurate,” Patricia said.
The Lions hurt their chances earlier in the game with mental mistakes such as linebacker Jamie Collins getting ejected for making contact with an official.
The Adrian Peterson-led running game accounted for 138 yards rushing, averaging 4.8 yards a carry. That was the most the team gained on the ground in Week 1 since 1999.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Detroit ranked last in the league last year against the pass and its secondary is banged up. The Lions allowed Mitchell Trubisky to throw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
Peterson, clearly, is not washed up. He had 14 rushes for 93 yards and three catches for 21 yards in his Detroit debut, just four days after his first practice with the team.