Matt Patricia, the Detroit Lions’ third-year head coach, is no stranger to blown leads. He’s overseen the blowing of many, many leads since taking the helm of the Lions, and Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears was one of them.
Up by 10 points with 4:08 to play, Patricia opted to try for a 55-yard field goal. It clanged off the goalpost and gave the Bears excellent field position, which they used to score a touchdown and narrow the score to 23-20. An interception in the very next series led to the go-ahead touchdown for the Bears, and the loss stung even more after D’Andre Swift let the game-winning touchdown slip through his fingers with six seconds left to play.
That’s some ugly fourth-quarter football. With so many blown leads under his belt, you’d think that Patricia’s coaching has to play a part in that, right? Not according to Patricia!
Patricia says coaching issues aren’t a factor
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein asked the question on the minds of many Detroit Lions fans during Sunday’s postgame interview: Is there something about Patricia’s coaching that’s leading to so many late-game collapses? Patricia didn’t hesitate before answering in the negative, hauling out his famous resume to prove his point.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia was asked if there's something in his coaching "that isn't happening enough in the fourth quarter."— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 13, 2020
"Yeah, I don't think so," Patricia said. "I think I got probably one of the biggest plays in the fourth quarter in the history of the NFL." pic.twitter.com/chcqBLXF6U
“I don’t think so. I think I’ve got probably one of the biggest plays in the fourth quarter in the history of the NFL where I think I did a pretty good job. So I don’t think it’s that. I think we all know what the individual games are. We got to do a better job. We’ve got a team right now that’s different than the previous two years. This team is different, they’re different players and they have a different mindset. We have no excuses, give the Bears credit. They did what they did and they executed and they scored and they won and we didn’t.”
Patricia is referring to Malcom Butler’s game-saving goal line interception for the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX, when he was serving as the team’s defensive coordinator. Of course, that was five years ago. As Lions head coach he’s won a grand total of 9 games out of 33, with one tie. Not exactly a record to be proud of, which might be why Patricia has to go back five years to when he was the DC of an entirely different team to validate his coaching.
Patricia’s many blown leads
Patricia won’t admit that his coaching decisions could be causing the Lions to constantly blow late-game leads. And it truly is a constant thing.
In 2019 they blew an 18-point lead to the Arizona Cardinals which ended with a tie, and would blow another six third-quarter leads during the season. In 2018 they lost 48-17 to the New York Jets after returning an interception for a touchdown on the very first play of the game, which was so embarrassing they had to bury the game ball on the practice field.
In all, the Lions have blown 11 fourth-quarter leads since Patricia became head coach. That’s one-third of all games Patricia has coached. At this point, it’s either Patricia’s coaching, or a traveling football ghost visits the team every three games to make them blow a lead. You can decide which is more likely.
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