The Detroit Lions got timely plays from their defense during their three-game winning streak, forcing turnovers and getting clutch stops when they needed them in the fourth quarter.
On Sunday, that same defense – minus three key starters – folded at the worst possible time.
The Houston Texans chewed six minutes off the clock with a fourth-quarter field goal drive then ran the final three minutes off the clock to beat the Lions at NRG Stadium, 20-13.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who temporarily cooled his hot seat with a strong October, made two questionable decisions in the second half.
First, Caldwell decided not to challenge a potential fumble in the third quarter a few plays before a Texans field goal. Then, after Matt Prater made a field goal with 2:57 left to make it a one-score game, the Lions tried an onside kick.
This looks like a fumble in real time, even worse when you slow it down. pic.twitter.com/oVJlpEUUY0— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) October 30, 2016
Robert Nelson recovered for Houston, and Lamar Miller picked up two first downs to keep the Texans (5-3) undefeated at home.
Miller ran for just 56 yards on 17 carries, but the Texans had five runs of 8 or more yards on the final two drives.
Houston scored the first 14 points of the game, using tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin to pick apart the Lions defense.
Fiedorowicz scored on a 6-yard pass two minutes into the second quarter, and Miller added a 1-yard touchdown run on the Texans’ next possession.
Prater missed a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter and made a 47-yarder just before halftime, but the Texans went ahead 17-3 on Nick Novak’s 33-yard kick midway through the third quarter after the Lions nearly forced a big turnover.
DeAndre Hopkins appeared to make a catch going across the middle when Johnson Bademosi knocked the ball loose as Hopkins was coming to a stop to try to change direction.
Tavon Wilson picked up the loose ball as one official threw a beanbag to mark the spot of a fumble, but a second official blew the play dead.
The Lions did not challenge the play, and Glover Quin was called for pass interference one play later to put the Texans in field-goal range.
The Lions scored their only touchdown of the game on the second play of the fourth quarter. After Corey Moore was called for pass interference on Eric Ebron in the end zone, Matthew Stafford threw a 1-yard scoring pass to Theo Riddick.
Stafford completed 27 of 41 passes for 240 yards, and Ebron caught a career-high seven passes for 79 yards for the Lions, who fell to 4-4 with the loss and visit the Minnesota Vikings next week.