It's a fair statement to say yours truly has seen a lot of football games over the decades. Be it college or pros, and whether at the stadiums or viewing on TV -- it's a rare occasion indeed when something happens as a "first". You name the play, from a 99 yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown, to successful Hail Marys and/or various trick plays, and it's all falls into the category of been there or seen that before.
But against the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions did something new. Yes, they were bumbling their way to another loss, but that was semi-predictable. Despite their local hype, the puddy-tats aren't a very good football team.
Nevertheless, here was the situation: Trailing late in the game, the Lions' had the ball and faced a 4th down. They had no choice but to "go for it". They did. A pass was thrown, caught, and a tackle made. Yet the linesman appeared to spot the ball a few inches short of a first down.
The referee didn't signal a first down, and the chains on the sideline didn't move. For a few seconds, nobody knew what the hell was going on. Surely this play would be reviewed. But it wasn't.
As the entire squadron of officials on the field and the "guys in the booth" were trying to figure out what to do -- QB Matthew Stafford hustled his team to line, snapped the ball, and ran another play. The play failed, and the Lions would ultimately go down to another well deserved defeat, but that's not the point.
Even AFTER the play, the zebras were still gazing at each other with the "what just happened?" look. Didn't the linesman apparently mark the ball short of a first down and, if so, shouldn't the ball have gone over to the Vikings? But the Lions had run another offensive play. Is there anything in the NFL rule book that allows the officials to "undo" a play that was likely fraudulently executed in the first place, to go back and examine the previous play to make sure they got it right? Yours truly knoweth not. If not, there should be.
True, it turned out to not make any difference. But what if it had, and the Lions had improbably come back to miraculously win the game? Stranger things have happened -- maybe. The irascible Donald's lead continues to grow in the polls. The Detroit Tigers went from the penthouse to the outhouse over the course of a few short months. Since his latest judicial beat-down, NFL Commish Roger Goodell has become quiet as a church mouse. And, of course, there's the whole Bruce/Caitlyn thing. Did I mention strange?
But back to the Lions. Did they attempt to cheat on the play? Probably. Did they get away with it? Yep. Were the officials incompetent? No doubt.
Yet here's the thing. The Lions are in deep trouble. Already 0-2, the Denver Broncos come to Ford Field next week. If Matthew Stafford thought he took a beating (he did) against the Vikings, things will only get worse when the likes of Demarcus Ware and Vonn Miller make mince-meat of the Lions' cobbled together O-line and have him running for his life all night (late game). Peyton isn't what he used to be, but against the Lions' Keystone Kop secondary he should have a field day throwing the ball.
And then the Lions head off to Seattle. They've lost their first two games on the road, and are likely highly pissed. Good luck to the Lions when they visit the slaughterhouse in the northwest.
Even trying to cheat won't help them there. And besides, nobody has mastered the art of cheating better than snake oil salesman Pete Carroll. But he's gone to Super Bowls, while the Lions continue to flounder under their latest clown coach Jim Caldwell. A great coordinator while working for successful head coaches for other teams, but a failure when given the reins himself.
Don't look now, but it's starting to show again. He may be a righteous dude, but the Peter Principle still applies. Like the Lions over the years, JC has a history of crashing and burning when he gets over his head.
This year shall be no different. Matthew Stafford has never been all that, Calvin Johnson is literally on his last legs, the defense porous, line play on both sides of the ball underwhelming, a running game that impresses absolutely nobody, and while the coaching staff still spouts Lion-esque Pollyannish platitudes to the press -- they appear to be clueless as well.
It's just another year for the, arguably, sorriest franchise in the entire history of the world of professional sports. Even trying to cheat isn't going to change it.