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DETROIT — At halftime the Lions controlled time of possession by almost a 3:1 ratio.
And trailed on the scoreboard.
Failure to finish early drives loomed large in Sunday’s 27-24 home defeat to Cincinnati. Consequently, Detroit was forced to play catch-up in the second half rather than building a lead.
First-half drives of 13 and 12 plays sputtered into field goal attempts, one that David Akers made and another that Cincinnati blocked.
Detroit ran 47 plays in the first half compared to Cincinnati’s 21 and possessed the ball for more than 22 minutes. The Bengals however entered the break up 14-10.
“You have to give credit to them,” Lions receiver Kris Durham said. “They finished. Unfortunately, we didn’t.”
The Lions scored their only first half touchdown on a 16-play drive, so it’s not like all of their sustained drives came up empty. Detroit converted four third downs on the drive, including tight end Brandon Pettigrew’s three-yard TD catch.
Another Lions tight end, budding fan-favorite Joseph Fauria, was targeted twice in the end zone in the first half but he and quarterback Matthew Stafford could not connect either time.
INJURIES: Detroit played most of the day without its starting offensive tackles. Jason Fox was inactive and Riley Reiff left in the first half with a hamstring injury. Filling in were Corey Hilliard, himself the victim of a knee injury, and undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle.
“There were a lot of guys that were walking off the field with trainers around them,” Stafford said. “This was a tough game.”
Injuries forced the Lions to shuffle their line on field goals, which coach Jim Schwartz refused to attribute to Carlos Dunlap blocking a 34-yard Akers attempt in the second quarter. Cincinnati, needing to advance 40 yards for a TD, went ahead 14-10 on a 12-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Marvin Jones.
“You’re talking about a 10-point turnaround on that,” Schwartz said.
Detroit cornerback Rashean Mathis also suffered a groin injury.
SANZENBACHER CHIPS IN: Toledo native Dane Sanzenbacher made only once catch but it was a big one, advancing Cincinnati seven yards on the initial play of its winning drive.
Sanzenbacher, the third-year pro and alumnus of Ohio State and Central Catholic, was active for the fifth week in a row. He played sparingly, appearing on special teams and on multiple-receiver formations.
“I just try to stay involved in the game,” said Sanzenbacher, who has three catches on the season. “I have a little bit of a role on special teams, which at least keeps my blood pumping and into it. As far as offense goes, I really have no idea what’s going to happen. When my number’s called I have no choice but to make that play.”
Another receiver with local ties was inactive. Andrew Hawkins, who played at the University of Toledo, has not practiced since injuring his ankle in the preseason.