Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
With a 4th-and-5 on the Pittsburgh 10-yard line and a 27-23 lead early in the fourth quarter, Lions coach Jim Schwartz opted to run a fake field goal.
Instead of taking a sure three points to push the lead to a touchdown, Schwartz gambled that he could catch the Steelers unaware.
It did not work, and the game fundamentally changed as a result.
Punter Sam Martin attempted to scamper off right tackle for the first down, but he was popped hard after about two yards. Before he was slammed to the turf well short of the needed conversion spot, he fumbled the ball forward off his foot.
The Steelers took over at their own 3, but trailing by just four instead of seven. Pittsburgh then methodically ripped off a 16-play, 97-yard drive which was capped off by a short touchdown pass to fullback Will Johnson.
What could have been a seven-point lead quickly morphed into a three-point deficit. Worse, all the momentum of the game shifted squarely to the guys dressed like bumble bees.
I don't think the concept of trying for a fake there was terrible. Even though it failed, the play pinned the Steelers deep in their own territory. Detroit's defense had been playing well, giving no indication they could mount such an impressive drive.
Yet the play called, a sprint by the punter on a slick field, was a poor decision. On such a short field goal the perimeter defenders are unlikely to sell out on a block, which means less room to operate. It was not well thought out, and it cost the Lions a game.