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How the Lions got off track this season

4. Last gasp: It was a day of questionable play calling for the Lions’ offense, and what proved to be the last possession after Prater’s missed kick was bold-type example.

When they got the ball at their 30 with 3:41 left, they ran the following three plays:

Short pass to the right to Kenny Gollalday, that was covered and stopped for a three-yard gain.

Theo Riddick up the middle, stopped for a loss of two yards.

Short pass to the right – on third and nine — to Levine Toilolo for two yards.

Net gains: Two passes for five yards, an average of 2.5 yards per pass, a net loss of two yards on the only run.

Bills pinned, escape: The Bills started five possessions inside their 20-yard line and got at least one first down all five times. They started one possession at their 20 and punted after three straight incomplete passes.

Off side: Linebacker Jarrad Davis played another strong game, but a critical offside led to the Bills running out the clock. On third and seven at the Lions’ 47, Allen’s pass was incomplete. The Bills would have been forced to punt with 1:56, but the penalty made it third and two. Two runs – the second a sneak by Allen – got the first down and let the Bills run out the clock.

On the run: With LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory out, the Bills went with what amounted to their third- and fourth-string running backs in Marcus Murphy and Keith Ford. They combined to rush for 81 yards. Fullback Patrick DiMarco added nine yards on his only run. It wasn’t terrible run defense, but it wasn’t good. Certainly not as good as it should have been – especially since Allen was held to 16 yards on nine runs.

The defense, all things considered, played well enough to win.

Short stuff: It was all or nothing, and mostly nothing in the passing game. Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 29 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Kenny Golladay had seven catches on eight targets for 145 yards. Toilolo had four catches on four targets for 28 yards.

But here’s the rub: Toilolo had a long catch of 18 yards. That means nine of Stafford’s attempts – to Golladay and Toilolo – gained 163 yards – an average of 18.1 yards per attempt.

The other 20 attempts gained 45 yards, an average of 2.25 yards per attempt.

Scoring drought: The Lions have been under 20 points the last four games, and they’ve gone over 20 just once in the last eight – a 22-point “binge” in a road loss to the Bears. They’ve scored 127 points in the last eight games, for an average of 15.875 per game.

They have not been in a scoring slump. The offense is what it is – deficient.

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