Dull ‘Dagger’: Another collapse costs Lions their opener

DETROIT (AP) – If the Detroit Lions‘ first game was any indication, their “Dagger Time” mantra could use some sharpening.

For a second consecutive season, the Lions blew a big fourth-quarter lead in their opening game. This year was worse, however. Detroit at least salvaged a tie in its first game at Arizona in 2019. On Sunday against Chicago, the Lions allowed the last 21 points in a 27-23 loss to the Bears.

That was after the Lions adopted a slogan suggesting they would mean business late in games. “IT’S DAGGER TIME” was even printed behind some of the upper-level seats, high above the field.

“We’ve got to finish the game better. There’s a lot of areas we’ve got to improve on,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Certainly, we can’t do things that hurt ourselves, which we did in the fourth quarter.”

Last year, Detroit led 24-6 at Arizona in the final quarter, but the game ended in a 27-27 tie. Against Chicago, the Lions were up 23-6, and the Bears had not looked threatening on offense. Then Detroit allowed three touchdown passes by a previously ineffective Mitchell Trubisky.

With the score 23-13, a sack and a fumble forced the Bears to punt on fourth-and-41, and the Lions appeared to be running the ball well enough to put the game away. But Matt Prater missed a 55-yard field goal with 4:02 remaining – after quarterback Matthew Stafford had taken a sack on second down at the Chicago 33.

An incompletion there would have stopped the clock, but Stafford said afterward it might have been a better play.

“I think it would have made the field goal easier,” Stafford said.

Trubisky threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Javon Wims with 2:58 remaining. Then Detroit faced third-and-5, trying to protect a 23-20 lead. Stafford’s pass over the middle caromed high in the air and was intercepted.

Detroit was without injured first-round draft pick Jeff Okudah in the secondary, and Trubisky gave the Bears the lead with a 27-yard scoring pass to Anthony Miller. The Lions still had 1:54 remaining to recover, and they made it all the way to the red zone.

Rookie D’Andre Swift, who had scored the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter, dropped what could have been the winning TD with 6 seconds left.

“I just pulled him to the side and told him, ‘Hey, it’s all about how you respond to this. Don’t let this get you down,’” said Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 93 yards in his first game with the Lions. “I can imagine how he feels in that situation, how he must feel. But at the end of the day, what he showed me today is that he’s going to be able to help us. He’s going to win games for us.”

NOTES: Detroit LB Jamie Collins was ejected in the second quarter when he made contact with an official with his helmet. It didn’t look like an aggressive gesture – he may have been demonstrating something that had happened on the field – but he appeared to lower his helmet into the official’s chest. Official Alex Kemp said he ruled the contact was unnecessary.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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