No tears this week, just anger. And Dan Campbell had every right to be ticked off.
After clawing, scratching and biting everything but kneecaps to keep games competitive the first five weeks, the Detroit Lions turned in their most uninspired effort of the season Sunday, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-11, at Ford Field.
“We got whipped. That was brutal,” Campbell said. “We took it and they got after us. Credit Cincinnati, they were ready to go and we didn’t do anything right. Thought we played a little defense early in that game, first half … and just we couldn’t sustain. And offensively, we had no rhythm, we had no tempo, we couldn’t execute on third down, missed opportunities. And that’s the story of the game, so that was a beatdown.”
The Lions managed just 81 net yards of offense through the first three quarters Sunday and did not score their first points until the game was well out of reach, on a 35-yard Austin Seibert field goal with 8:36 to play.
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At 0-6, they are off to their worst start since their 0-16 season of 2008 and are the only winless team left in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who entered Sunday without a win, beat the Miami Dolphins in London, on a last second-field goal by Matthew Wright, who the Lions cut in the preseason.
Campbell, who fought back tears after last week’s last-season loss to the Minnesota Vikings, blamed himself and his coaching staff for much of his team’s struggles Sunday, saying the Lions’ poor performance and lack of focus was a reflection on him.
“I’m going to look at everything. That’s my job,” Campbell said. “But when you get whipped like that, that’s on me. There’s no other way around that. Of course, we’ll look at everything, but that’s a reflection on me. That’s a reflection on me. You don’t play like that. We don’t have a team that’s – that team is not 30-something points better than us, there’s no way. And they did, they played well over there. But we didn’t execute.”
The Lions, owners of a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season, committed two penalties on their first three plays Sunday and never got their offense on track.
Jared Goff finished 28 of 42 passing for 202 yards, but drove the Lions into Bengals territory only once in the first three quarters.
The Lions, who failed to score a first-half touchdown for the fourth straight game, were in Cincinnati territory a second time, after Amani Oruwariye intercepted a Joe Burrow pass that sailed through Ja’Marr Chase’s hands. But Goff was sacked for a 10-yard loss on the first play after the pick, and Amon-Ra St. Brown had a pass ripped out of his hands for an interception on the next play.
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Goff overthrew an open T.J. Hockenson on a third-and-4 pass from the Bengals’ 38-yard line early in the second quarter that likely would have gone for a touchdown, then threw the ball away out of bounds on fourth-and-4, when rookie left tackle Penei Sewell was beat on a pass rush that caused Goff to flee the pocket early and miss an open D’Andre Swift in the flat. Sewell was called for holding on the play.
Goff was booed loudly when he skipped a pass to KhaDarel Hodge late in the fourth quarter, two plays before Swift scored the Lions’ only touchdown.
“You’re not human if you’re not upset,” Goff said. “We put so much time and effort into all this, and so much energy and so much love for the game and passion and to have a result like that and repeated results of losses is tough. It doesn’t kill our spirit or kill who we are, but for right now, yeah, we’re mad and frustrated.”
Defensively, the Lions played a good first half, holding a potent Bengals offense to 10 points, then imploded in the final 30 minutes.
The Bengals scored on their first four possessions of the second half, a streak that came to an end only after they ran two kneel-down plays to kill the clock.
Burrow finished 19 of 29 passing for 271 yards with three touchdowns. His backup, Brandon Allen, entered the game with more than 8 minutes to play and threw a fourth touchdown pass.
Chase had four catches for 97 yards, and Joe Mixon added 94 yards rushing, 54 receiving and a touchdown for the Bengals (4-2).
Campbell, who is off to to the worst start by a first-year Lions coach since Marty Mornhinweg went 0-12 in 2001, said Sunday was the first time all season he was angry with the way his team played.
The Lions were competitive in defeats to the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers to open the season, lost to the Vikings and Baltimore Ravens on last-second field goals and fell victim to their own red zone woes in a Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears.
They play the 5-1 Los Angeles Rams and Matthew Stafford next week.
“I think all in all he was just saying that wasn’t us,” Oruwariye said. “He felt like every week we’ve been on the incline and he didn’t feel like we’ve gotten better at all today through our offense, defense, and special teams, and he’s right. So we’ll bounce back. We’re just going to be very critical of ourselves and then get ready for next week.”
Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions lose to Bengals, are NFL’s only winless team