D'Andre Swift was having himself a nice little debut. He had a touchdown on the ground and here came the game-winning touchdown through the air, right into Swift's hands -- and then right out of them.
The ball hit the turf and then so did Swift, flat on his stomach, his facemask pressed into the ground. He lay there for a moment or two, unable to move, unable to process his mistake.
Swift catches that pass, a perfectly-thrown dart by Matthew Stafford, 10 times out of 10, 100 times out of 100, but he didn't catch it this time, with everything on the line. The Bears sealed their win over the Lions on the next play.
The players converged on the field, and then Swift walked slowly up the tunnel, his head tilted toward the ground as Matt Patricia draped an arm over the rookie's shoulder and offered a few words of support. Swift got some more encouragement a short while later in the locker room from Adrian Peterson.
"I just pulled him to the side and told him, 'Hey, it’s all about how you respond to this. Don’t let this get you down.' I can imagine how he feels in that situation," Peterson said. "But at the end of the day, what he showed me today is that he’s going to be able to help us, he’s going to win games for us this season."
As Swift sat quietly in his locker, Peterson's message continued.
"So keep your head up, man, we got 15 more. It’s a long season. Do not let this bother you, do not let this linger. Focus on the next game, which is Green Bay, and focus on, when you get in that position again, what you’re gonna do to capitalize on it. That’s all that matters," Peterson said.
Peterson had a strong Lions debut himself, rushing for 93 yards on 14 carries and adding 21 yards on three receptions. He was Detroit's best offensive player just a week after joining the team, though he lamented a couple plays: a 19-yard run in the first quarter that he thought should have gone for more, and a third-and-1 he failed to convert in the second.
"I feel like there were some things I left on the field, and that all comes with me watching (film) and being critical on myself and seeing how I can be better," he said. "If I cut to the right (on the first run), that’s seven points instead of three. There’s things that I need to clean up and we need to clean up as an offense and just keep this thing rolling, because we definitely have the ability to be very special this year."
He knows they'll need Swift to see that vision through. So Peterson will help the rookie through this early letdown, knowing he has plenty of good moments to come.
"He’s pretty upset right now. And I’m glad that he is, because now it’s all about how he’s going to respond to it. Realize what you can do better and move forward," Peterson said. "We got a long season ahead."