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Turkey time: Lions utterly unravel at the end, again

Bears win on field goal at 0:00 in terribly played game

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Oh-10-and-1, oh-10-and-1. How lowly are thy losses?

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Lower than the lowest.

The Detroit Lions remain winless on the 2021 NFL season, after their most miserable meltdown yet in the final minutes led to another dispiriting defeat on Thursday, 16-14, to a team that’s nearly as bad as they are: Chicago’s Bears.

This year’s annual opener to the NFL’s traditional turkey-day tripleheader was harder to swallow than dried-out bird without gravy. It was that bad.

Even FOX’s booth announcers, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, snickered throughout at the gallingly bad level of play, especially by the Lions. At one point Aikman — a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback — couldn’t stop chuckling.

Chicago improved to 4-7, Detroit fell to 0-10-1.

“We all want to win,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “We’ve got to learn how to win.”

That’d help.

Detroit’s offence scored a touchdown in each half, but otherwise was life-and-death to pick up a measly first down. In each half the Lions were penalized on three consecutive plays, both times leaving them 3 rd -and-about-a-third-of-the-field to go for a first down.

Until the end, the Detroit defence at least was able to keep backup Chicago quarterback Andy Dalton — in for rookie Justin Fields, who couldn’t play with cracked ribs — and the Bears from scoring more than 13 points, on 314 yards of offence.

But then the Lions in the final 10 minutes, predictably, in every facet, utterly unraveled. Despite holding a rare late-game lead of 14-13.

First, QB Jared Goff and the Lions offence couldn’t get out of their own way as they tried to burn clock and add to their lead. Forty-four yards of gains were mostly offset by 25 yards in penalties, and Detroit punted from its own 29 with 8:41 left.

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The Bears then ran out the clock, with ample assistance from poise-bereft Lions defensive coaches, but also thanks to some good, tough runs from David Montgomery and timely completions from Dalton. Chicago drove 69 yards in 18 plays, culminating in Carlos Santos’ 28-yard field goal at 0:00.

Detroit probably would have forced a longer field goal with 1:54 remaining and given itself a chance to still win it when, following a Lions timeout, Chicago faced a 3 rd -and-9 at the Detroit 16-yard line. Lions players couldn’t get lined up correctly despite the extra time to do so, and then frantic, livid Lions defensive coaches called timeout again.

It’s illegal to call consecutive timeouts between plays, and the five-yard penalty gave Chicago a much more makeable 3 rd -and-4 at the 11, still with 1:54 left.

Confusion again reigned on Detroit’s defence, with players sprinting off the field just before the snap, and the secondary improperly lined up. Dalton easily hit open receiver Damiere Byrd for seven yards, and that was it; three Dalton kneel-downs later, the Bears won for the first time in more than a month.

The Lions haven’t won in nearly 51 weeks.

So, millions of Americans were served one huge turkey, then hours later ate Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Pass the neck, Clark.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

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