The Detroit Lions followed up an abysmal season opener with three more abysmal quarters against the 49ers in San Francisco. It took facing a 30-13 deficit to snap the team into life. But after Matthew Stafford took the team on two consecutive touchdown drives to cut the lead to three, it appeared there was a very real chance at an improbable comeback. Especially when Tracy Walker intercepted a Jimmy Garappolo pass and returned it to the Niners’ 7-yard line with just over two minutes to play.
It was a much-needed and rare sliver of brilliance. It looked as though the Lions were about to author a grand response by scoring 21 straight. It wasn’t to be, though, as Quandre Diggs was hit with a defensive holding penalty on tight end George Kittle.
Adding to the pain is the fact the official took his sweet time throwing the flag, allowing beaten-down Lions fans a few seconds of unearned bliss before the bad news.
And it was definitely a shaky flag. Kittle was away from the play, Garoppolo never looked in his direction, and contact appeared to be within five yards of the snap. Oh, and it came at a huge inflection point of the game. Other than all those things, though, it was great and perfectly adjudicated.
Diggs was understandably upset with the call.
Diggs said the official who would normally be responsible for monitoring for holding on the play claimed he didn’t throw the flag, leaving the cornerback with no explanation for why he was penalized.
“Frustrating because I didn’t think it was the right call,” Diggs said. “I don’t think you make that call at the end of the game away from the ball, in clutch time. You don’t make that call. And, you know, I’m not going to get fined for it, but I’m not happy with the call.
Borderline decisions are going to go against you every game, especially on the road. The call was not why the Lions lost. The Lions lost because their tackling was putrid and the offense sputtered before having its back against the wall. It didn’t help, though.
At 0-2, the playoffs — always a pipe dream — appear completely off the table. Patricia is still winless and the next three games look daunting (Patriots, at Cowboys, Packers). The beat goes on, and the beats keep coming in new and equally soul-crushing manner.