DETROIT — Calvin Johnson finished 36 receiving yards shy of 2,000. Matthew Stafford ended up 33 passing yards short of 5,000.
Perhaps that was appropriate considering their team came a little short week after week during this agonizing 2012 season that ended Sunday for the Detroit Lions with a 26-24 loss to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
A year after going to the playoffs, the Lions completely collapsed in the second half of the season, losing their final eight games, five at home, to finish with a 4-12 record.
The Lions will get the No. 5 pick overall in the NFL Draft on April 25. It is the third time in five years that they’ll have a top-5 selection.
There are many questions that need to be answered during the offseason, the first perhaps concerning the future of coach Jim Schwartz.
There are rumors that his job could be on the line and that the Ford family, which owns the club, is considering a move.
Others expect Schwartz to get another year to see if he can turn this back in the right direction after inheriting an 0-16 team and getting to 10 wins by his third year before things fell apart again in the last two months.
“I wouldn’t discuss any private conversations for whatever purpose they served and I’ve always been that way,” Schwartz said of talks with the Fords. “The thing I’m most concerned about is getting this team back to where we all want it to be.
“When the story of the season is written, it’s going to say 4-12 and nobody’s happy with that — players, coaches, front office, ownership, everybody. Everybody’s in the same boat with that. We’re all focused on getting that right.”
Asked directly if he expects to be back next season, Schwartz answered, “Like I said, I’m only concerned with getting this team back. That’s the thing I’m most concerned with.”
Sunday’s loss was typical of many in 2012 for the Lions. The first nine losses were by an average of 5.6 points.
This time, they came back from a 20-3 deficit to make it close, but once again failed to do what was necessary for a victory.
Johnson, who needed 108 yards coming into the game to reach 2,000, caught five passes for 72 yards. He finished with a NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards.
“There’ll be a cloud, personally, because we didn’t finish like we wanted to,” Johnson said.
As for failing to reach 2,000, Johnson said, “It’s not really tough at all.”
Johnson called it “a hell of a feat” to break Jerry Rice’s single-season record.
“So I’m not disappointed as far as that goes,” he said.
Stafford also had a chance to join New Orleans’ Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Stafford needed 305 yards entering Sunday. He completed 24-of-42 for 272 yards, three touchdowns and one interceptions.
His final yardage total came to 4,967.
One more big play together and he and Johnson both could have reached their milestones.
It just wasn’t meant to be.
“I was trying to win the game,” Stafford said. “If he got one-on-one coverage, I was trying to throw him the ball and if he didn’t then other guys had to step up and they did.”
Looking back on what went wrong this year, safety Louis Delmas might have hit on one explanation.
He indicated that the Lions fell into a trap that affects many teams after they’ve made a big jump to achieve some level of success.
“I think we got a little too comfortable with last year’s playoff,” Delmas said. “We’ve got to continue to work hard and not get too comfortable.”
While the NFL is a bottom-line business and many games are determined by a play or two, Stafford said he was encouraged by one factor of Sunday’s disappointment.
“At this point in the season, you go down 17 points and fight your way back within two is a good sign,” Stafford said. “Guys were giving everything they had.”
Once again it just wasn’t quite enough.
Stafford broke the NFL’s single-season record for pass attempts, finishing with 727, 36 more than New England’s Drew Bledsoe had in 1994.
… Kicker Jason Hanson broke a NFL record with his 188th career field goal of at least 40 yards, surpassing Morten Andersen. Hanson also broke his own club record with 134 points for the season, two more than he had in 1995.
… The 2013 schedule will include home games against Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Dallas, New York Giants, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, while the road games will be Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Arizona, according to the Lions.
… Detroit went 0-6 against NFC North rivals, getting swept by the Bears, Packers and Vikings.
… The Lions committed four turnovers, all of them in their territory to give Chicago 16 points. The Bears, meanwhile, had no giveaways. In its last two games, Detroit was minus-7 in turnover margin.