Timing is everything and the 2012 Detroit Lions seem to have a lack of it.
The Lions season has been riddled with slow starts and failed comeback attempts where the team was able to make plays but just not at the right time.
A 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers is the most recent personification of the team's poor timing.
With their playoff lives essentially in the balance, the Lions played well for much of the game. They carried a 10-7 lead into halftime, a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter and a 20-14 lead into the last four minutes of the game.
"We did a decent job early in the game," said defensive end Cliff Avril. "But towards the end we let it get away from us. But, that's all part of the game. You've got to be able to play all four quarters, all 60 minutes, and we weren't able to do that today… As a team though, we played good football except for five minutes of that whole game that basically cost us."
The five minutes where the Lions suffered a lapse proved to be the clock's most crucial clicks.
It started with 5:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Lions had drove 62 yards to the Packers 10-yard line and were 10 yards away from putting two scores between them and Green Bay.
In that situation - with a three-point lead - a touchdown is a must as a field goal affords reigning league MVP Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ample opportunity to lead his team to the game winning points.
The Lions had made plays all the way down the field and needed one more. Three plays and one yard later, they settled for a field goal.
"We had a chance to go put the game away down there earlier in the fourth quarter there," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "Score a touchdown and try to throw a ball to (receiver) Titus (Young) and we were unsuccessful for whatever reason. We score seven there it's a whole different game."
Two and a half minutes later, the Packers put the winning points on the board.
Before that drive, the Packers offense had generated only 231 yards and seven points. However, the plays they previously didn't make were erased by the ones they did when the game was on the line.
"They just made some plays," said linebacker Justin Durant. "They made more plays than we did at the end of the day. We have to, like I said, finish. It's tough; I'm kind of hurt right now. But at the end of the day we've got to make those plays."
Both the Lions and Packers were presented with opportunities throughout the game and both made plays. The Packers just did it when it mattered most.
"The opportunity to just keep playing and keep playing so you do cash in when your opportunity comes," said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "I thought our team did a good job with that and that's why good teams win these kinds of games. We're a good team."
Good teams make plays when they need to be made. Against the Packers – and in so many other games this season – the Lions weren't good enough.