Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons marked the second career start for Detroit Lions backup quarterback Tim Boyle.
His showing was significantly better than his debut, a 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns that saw him finish with just 77 passing yards and two interceptions.
Still, his effort Sunday wasn’t good enough to secure Detroit its third victory of the 2021 season. Boyle finished 24-for-34 for 186 yards, to go along with a touchdown and an interception.
The late interception sealed the Lions' fate, as he was picked off by Foyesade Oluokun on the Atlanta Falcons' 1-yard-line with 0:33 remaining.
Looking back, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell wishes he would’ve done more to help his fourth-year quarterback. The interception stands out, as the head coach wishes he would’ve given his signal-caller an easier read.
“Man, I could’ve helped him,” Campbell said. “When I went back and watched that tape, man, I should’ve helped him better with a good, solid man-zone read. Maybe start the back outside, bring him back in. I kicked myself for that in hindsight, looking at it. Just something that could help him see it quicker and sooner.”
Boyle looked to be improved from his last outing, in terms of accuracy and consistency, but there was only a limited amount of opportunities to air the ball out downfield.
“The penalties killed us in the red zone,” Campbell said. “So, if I’m putting anything on me as well, from that, it’s we can’t green light anything, we gotta be careful with these hard counts, because we’re not handling them right now. Tim Boyle’s the new quarterback, they’re used to (Jared) Goff. But, that’s not an excuse. We’ve gotta be able to handle it.”
Jared Goff returns
Though Boyle was improved, it’s not likely he’ll start in Detroit’s Week 17 game, as starter Jared Goff has returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
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Goff entered protocols after testing positive for the virus Dec. 20. He missed Sunday’s game, but Campbell said he had rejoined the team in time for Monday’s practice.
On the season, the Lions quarterback has thrown for 3,007 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His most recent outing, a 30-12 win over Arizona on Dec. 12, was a three-touchdown performance.
He had missed one other game previously, the loss to Cleveland, with an oblique injury.
Jaylen Reeves-Maybin earns praise
Jalen Reeves-Maybin has taken on a whole new role over the course of his fifth season as a professional. Once thought of as simply a special teams ace, the Tennessee product has evolved into an every-down linebacker, thanks to development and injuries at the position.
He had another solid game against the Falcons, posting eight tackles and a pass breakup. Additionally, he forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Lions to get the ball back with one more chance to win the game.
Sunday marked the first time this season he’s played in 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, according to SportsReference.com.
On Monday, Campbell called his linebacker one of the most reliable players on the roster.
“I know he missed a couple of games here due to injury,” Campbell said. “But, when he’s been out there on defense and on special teams, he just plays. He’s a football player. That doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Tight end Shane Zylstra was ruled out for the season by Campbell, after suffering an injury in the loss to Atlanta. Fullback Jason Cabinda also left with injury, but his situation is “a lot more hopeful,” according to Campbell.
Detroit’s head coach said wide receiver Josh Reynolds and practice-squad quarterback Steven Montez have both tested positive for COVID-19.