Dull ‘Dagger’: Another collapse costs Lions their opener

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller catches a 27-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions cornerback Tony McRae (34) defends in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Chicago won 27-23. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller catches a 27-yard touchdown pass as Detroit Lions cornerback Tony McRae (34) defends in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Chicago won 27-23. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) (AP)

DETROIT – If the Detroit Lions' first game was any indication, their “Dagger Time” mantra could use some sharpening.

For a second consecutive season, the Lions blew a big fourth-quarter lead in their opening game. This year was worse, however. Detroit at least salvaged a tie in its first game at Arizona in 2019. On Sunday against Chicago, the Lions allowed the last 21 points in a 27-23 loss to the Bears.

That was after the Lions adopted a slogan suggesting they would mean business late in games. “IT'S DAGGER TIME" was even printed behind some of the upper-level seats, high above the field.

“We've got to finish the game better. There's a lot of areas we've got to improve on,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Certainly, we can't do things that hurt ourselves, which we did in the fourth quarter.”

Last year, Detroit led 24-6 at Arizona in the final quarter, but the game ended in a 27-27 tie. Against Chicago, the Lions were up 23-6, and the Bears had not looked threatening on offense. Then Detroit allowed three touchdown passes by a previously ineffective Mitchell Trubisky.

With the score 23-13, a sack and a fumble forced the Bears to punt on fourth-and-41, and the Lions appeared to be running the ball well enough to put the game away. But Matt Prater missed a 55-yard field goal with 4:02 remaining — after quarterback Matthew Stafford had taken a sack on second down at the Chicago 33.

An incompletion there would have stopped the clock, but Stafford said afterward it might have been a better play.

“I think it would have made the field goal easier,” Stafford said.