Quick question to Lions fans. When your team was ahead of the Packers 20-0 at Ford Field in the third quarter, which thought crossed your mind?
A. We've got this sucker in the bag, or
B. Could they possibly find a way to screw this up?
C'mon, be honest.
After more than a few crazy twists and turns, it turned out to be the latter. The Lions would lose indeed. They found a way to return to the blooper reels and be punch lines -- again.
One should remember the Lions have experienced more than their fair share of lucky breaks in recent times. (Last year they caught one miracle after another to even MAKE the playoffs, but Lions fans can only remember a questionable non-call against Dallas that ended their season.)
Just a few weeks ago, the Lions came away with a victory in Green Bay, their first in a quarter century. But the Packers basically handed it to them. Usually super-reliable QB Aaron Rodgers made some ill-advised throws, and at the end of the game, Green Bay place kicker Mason Crosby muffed a field goal attempt from 50 yards. The snap was good, the hold was good, and 50 yards is well within Crosby's range. The Lions didn't block it. Crosby just pretty much whiffed on a kick that would have won the game for the Packers. Another definite break for the Lions.
Then they returned home to defeat a sub-par Oakland Raiders team. The following week the Philadelphia Eagles came to Detroit. The Eagles had long since completely collapsed. Beating such a sad-sack team handily is certainly better than losing to them, but hardly anything to crow about.
Nevertheless, the Lions were now on a 3-game win streak. Could they possibly -- gasp -- still find their way into the playoffs? One must also remember that Lions fans (and some of their koolaided media) are a very strange breed. Only in Detroit do they think that every year is THE year. Evidently, over a half century of a bumbling franchise, year after year after year, has not been enough to dampen their eternal, if foolish optimism. Fifty -- count-em -- FIFTY Super Bowls, and the Lions have yet to appear in a single one of them, let alone actually win it. Their battle cry has become predictable, if pathetic. Matthew Stafford is the greatest. All hail the killing the Lions made in the draft, buy another Calvin Johnson jersey, re-up the season tickets, and pass the blue salsa. Sigh. You'd think they'd learn.
But back to the Packers game last night. How does a team blow a 20-0 lead at home when they're supposedly on a "hot streak"? Leave it to the Lions. They'll figure out a way. Throw in a few of their usual bonehead penalties at critical moments late in the game. Add the Packers catching a couple breaks. It goes both ways.
Next thing ya know, the Lions have seen the Packers eat into their lead. But it shouldn't be a problem. Green Bay's still down 9 points late in the fourth quarter, and have no time-outs remaining. They need two scores. Not a chance -- right? But the Cheesers strike for a quick touchdown. Now the margin is 2 points. The Lions get the ball back and sure enough, they try to run out the clock -- but can't quite. The Packers hold them to a 3 and out and the Lions have to punt the ball back to the Green guys. Under 30 seconds remain and the Packers have the ball at their own 21. They likely need to advance it 40 yards or so to get Crosby within field goal range.
And then the craziness happened. Aaron Rodgers threw a deep pass to a receiver who was obviously interfered with by a Detroit defender. But no call. Another break for the Lions. With time running out, Rodgers was sacked. End of game, right? Not so fast. A Lion lineman got called for a personal foul face mask penalty on Rodgers on the play. Replays would show the facemask never actually occurred (those damn refs botched another one), but it was a break for the Packers. Fifteen yard penalty and one more play. Those 15 yards were just enough where Aaron Rodgers could heave the final ball into the end zone. The classic Hail Mary.
The Lions knew it was coming of course. They had eight defenders back in deep pass protection. By the time the ball actually came down, the end zone was swarming with Honolulu blue and silver uniforms. Anything but the most unlikeliest of miracle touchdowns, and the Lions win again. Make that win streak 4 and, lookout playoffs, they aren't done just yet. They and their media would tell you so. There's always hope (or dope -- perhaps they should start smoking it -- or stop) when it comes to the puddy-tats, but that was already discussed above.
But despite everybody in the stadium, both teams, and countless millions more watching the nationally broadcast game knowing exactly what was coming, the Lions still found a way to let the Packer miracle happen. A Green Bay tight end caught the ball in the end zone. Touchdown. Game over. Packers win. Lions lose.
Incredibly, none of the herd of Lions defenders in the end zone found a way to get in front of the eventual receiver and bat it down. This, despite the ball thrown by Rodgers being in the air for seemingly forever. The receiver made a clean catch.
It's almost unbelievable and will surely be shown over and over again on various telecasts. The talking heads on ESPN will yuk it up for days, weeks, and late night comedians have another punch line courtesy of the Lions.
But they have always been and remain the Lions. Just when you think it can't possibly get any stupider, they will find a way.
And that playoff thing? They didn't belong their last year and this year was just another pipe dream. Or maybe their fans and media should stay away from that damn pipe. Their infernal koolaid was bad enough, but I hear that stuff some people smoke in pipes these days is downright addictive and can turn otherwise semi-sane people into raging lunatics that can suffer all sorts of different delusions.
You know, like continuing to mention the Lions and the Super Bowl in the same breath. These people don't need season tickets. Their money would be better spent on a high-class hospice. They're dying anyway -- they just haven't figured it out yet.
But for now, it's business as usual for the Lions.
Another year, another clown act.