Despite an injury to wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Lions offense looked just fine in a 24-17 win over the Jets. The offense struggled for the Jets, who lost their third straight game and dropped to 1-3 on the year.
Alex Henery kicked a 51-yard field goal and Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes to give the Lions a 17-3 lead heading into halftime. Nick Folk hit a 27-yard field goal on the opening drive for the lone bright spot in the first half.
The Lions were the league’s top-rated total defense, and they limited the Jets’ ability to move the ball for good chunks of the game.
Geno Smith, who completed just 4-of-12 passes in the first half, started the second half off stronger with an 11-yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the third quarter and another touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
But the loss was the third straight by the Jets — all against NFC North opponents.
Metro looks at three things that went wrong in the loss.
1. Controlling Tate
With so much attention on Calvin Johnson, the Jets were far more affected by Golden Tate. The Lions wide receiver signed as a free agent this offseason because he knew he would benefit from the attention given to Johnson. Tate was open plenty on underneath routes and slants during the game. In the first half alone, he had four receptions for 68 yards en route to eight receptions for 116 yards. Johnson was rarely targeted in the game as Stafford made good use of Tate and his tight ends. There were rumors this offseason the Jets had interest in Tate. He was one of the best wide receivers available in free agency and known by former Seahawks front office member John Idzik. But the Jets were content to sign Eric Decker. Johnson was targeted twice and had just two receptions for 12 yards.
2. Beaten over the top
The Jets were in a pretty good spot with 6:19 left in the second quarter. The offense was sputtering, but the Jets were holding up defensively and had kept the score at 3-3. But on third-and-10 from their own 41-yard line, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went deep on a go-route to Jeremy Ross for a 59-yard touchdown pass and 10-3 lead. Cornerback Antonio Allen had man coverage on the play, but he didn’t get any help over the top from rookie safety Calvin Pryor. The link-up by Ross was the longest play in his professional career. Overall, a secondary that was missing top cornerback Dee Milliner for a second straight game and lost Pryor in the second quarter with a thigh injury didn’t perform too poorly though.
3. Turnovers, turnovers
It was hard to fault the defense in this one, even as they gave up two passing touchdowns and a one-yard touchdown run to Matthew Stafford. The defensive line created good pressure on the Lions and limited their running game (which isn’t very good to begin with). But two turnovers from quarterback Geno Smith, one an interception and one a fumble, continued to haunt the offense’s ability to move the ball. In turn, the turnovers created more pressure on the defense.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.