DETROIT — The Detroit Lions already know that Jason Hanson is a great field-goal kicker.
Now they need to get him more point-after attempts.
As bad as the Lions’ defense looked in the last few minutes of Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the offense could have helped them out by scoring more when they had the chance.
Their first opportunity came in the first quarter, when quarterback Matthew Stafford threw to Calvin Johnson for 53 yards, giving the Lions a first down at the Packers’ 18. An illegal-use-of-hands penalty on the Packers put the Lions at the Green Bay 9-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Lions, as has happened far too many times, they had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Hanson.
In the fourth quarter, after Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed his second field-goal attempt of the day, the Lions were still leading, 17-14, and got two more big plays.
First, Stafford found rookie Ryan Broyles for a 27-yard gain to the Green Bay 36-yard line. Two plays later, Stafford connected with Titus Young for 24 yards, giving the Lions a first down at the Green Bay 10-yard line.
Mikel Leshoure ran twice for a total of a yard and Stafford threw incomplete, bringing Hanson back on to kick a 27-yard field goal.
If either of those two field goals had been touchdowns, the Lions’ locker room would have been a happier place to be.
Plus, Stafford threw an interception that Packers safety M.D. Jennings took 72 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Stafford admitted. “Obviously, to have spurts of playing good and then just not being able to be consistent enough with it, that’s the biggest thing.
“(We) gave them seven points on our offense, which isn’t good ever. Lose the turnover battle against a good team like that, it’s going to be tough.”
Stafford threw another interception, late in the first half, but Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey intercepted Aaron Rodgers two plays later to negate the threat.
Lions iron man Backus hurt
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus extended his streak of consecutive regular-season starts to 186 games, but that streak is in jeopardy.
Backus left late in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury. Although he had it taped and tried to return, he couldn’t. Rookie Riley Rieff replaced him.
“It’s hard to replace a rock that’s been there for 12 years,” Center Dominic Raiola said. “It’s just different without him out there.
“I thought Riley did a good job stepping in for him. We’re going to miss Jeff. I miss him out there. This is a tough one.”
Coach Jim Schwartz said it wasn’t surprising that the Packers sent pressure Rieff’s way.
“He’s a rookie going into a game,” Schwartz said. “I think any team is going to do the same thing.
“(Rieff) got a holding penalty. He’s got to be able to hold up. Riley’s a first-round draft pick. He’s a good player. We don’t expect any drop off in the game, but it was his first time playing left tackle. We can always do better.”
Backus declined to speak with reporters after the game. He spoke briefly to Raiola before limping out of the locker room.
Schwartz said Backus might not be able to go on Thanksgiving Day.
“When you’re not able to return to a game, I think that definitely would qualify as putting him in jeopardy,” Schwartz said.
Fairley, Suh play well
It will get overshadowed by the loss, but defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh had solid performances.
Fairley had two sacks and seven total tackles, including two for a loss.
“He was everywhere, man,” linebacker Justin Durant said. “I told him after the game, I said, ‘That’s what we need from you every week.’
“Now he’s set a standard that he has to live up to.”
Suh had five total tackles and was generally disruptive.