The Detroit Lions have been a snakebitten franchise for decades. Their luck hasn’t changed in Dan Campbell’s first season as head coach.
The only winless team in the NFC, the Lions have two losses in the last three weeks on long-distance, game-ending field goals. They lost their last home game on a record-breaking 66-yarder by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker. Minnesota’s Greg Joseph nailed a 54-yarder last week after the Lions erased a late 10-point deficit.
The Lions try once again to give Campbell his first victory as a head coach when they host the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.
Quarterback Jared Goff said the team must try not to dwell on the heartbreakers in the rear-view mirror.
“You’re always affected by it,” he said. “I don’t think you can not be affected by it. It’s good to be mad, it’s good to be (ticked) off, it’s good to want to be better.”
Injuries have also been an issue for the Lions.
Center Frank Ragnow joined that list this week, undergoing season-ending toe surgery. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus was placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken collarbone. Another wide receiver, Tyrell Williams, is on IR due to a concussion that will keep him out a while longer, Campbell said.
Several key defensive players are also on IR.
“I’m not shocked because I do know that’s the nature of this game and what we’re asked to deal with,” Campbell said. “That’s why depth is important. That’s why it’s important to develop players because they’ve got to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. They may be your starter for the rest of the year.”
The Lions (0-5) have put themselves in bad positions with their lack of punch. They have scored 17 or fewer points in the past four games. Their defense has kept them within striking distance of late.
“Dan’s got that physical mentality and that shows up,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “This is not an 0-5 football team when you turn on the tape. This is a team that’s going to fight tooth and nail. They’ve got a lot of injuries that they’re pushing through and they’ve been in a lot of football games that have come down to the last second of the game. Our guys know you’ve got to throw the records out in this game.”
Cincinnati (3-2) is also coming off a last-play loss on a field goal, though it took quite awhile to get there. Green Bay’s Mason Crosby made a 49-yarder late in overtime to give Green Bay a 25-22 win after both sides missed potential game-winning kicks.
The Bengals haven’t scored more than 24 points in their last four games, including two in which they went scoreless before halftime.
“We need to be better on how we attack teams early on and converting third downs,” Taylor said.
Quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a throat contusion on Sunday, which required a hospital visit, but the Bengals anticipate only a minimal impact at Detroit.
“You’ve got to be non-verbal on the road anyway,” Taylor said.
Burrow practiced on Wednesday but center Trey Hopkins (knee) was held out.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson and linebacker Trey Flowers, who are dealing with knee soreness, missed Detroit’s Wednesday practice.
–Field Level Media