I was trying to get my emotions in check before writing anything about this game, but it just wasn’t happening. The Lions did everything they needed to do to win the game. Remember, I said last week that if there were no turnovers from Stafford, it would be a very close game that either team could seize. Coming right down to a hook and ladder play for the (failed) game -winning TD as time expired certainly qualifies as “close” in my book! And think, the year before last it would have been a Lions LB making the “game changing” play of kicking a fumble to ice the game back the opponent, who scores. Instead, it was Detroit LB – Foote and Levy – making smart, strong plays keeping Portis out of the end zone and the game-clinching tackle with the clock on 00:00.
Pride of Detroit once again has a great game summary. Also, if you are in the Metro area on Tuesday, don’t forget your FREE Sheild’s Pizza. Don’t forget to check out NetRat’s blog – so far he has nailed how the season is going to progress near-perfectly (right down to the first win coming this week back in August!). The classy move of coming back into the stands and celebrating with the fans is just the type of move Jim Schwartz has been making himself all ifseason. One wonders if it will even become a tradition at Ford Field after wins? Finally, if you were wondering St. Louis is at 13 games and couting in its’ own losing streak. (yes, with 13 games remaining they could tie the Bucs AND the Lions’ records by going 0-16 this season…they are playing so weak, and now have lost Bulger. Is the next 0-16 watch on???)
I also felt very retro watching the game. Up until about 3 years ago, I lived where there was no cable available, and satellite wasn’t really reliable there. So I watched the game on a fuzzy broadcast station, lucky at times if I could tell what was happening between blue and orange fuzzed players on a 19″ TV screen with “snow” making it impossible to see the ball at times. I got a lot of that feel watching a blurry-at times, skipping video feed online while I listened to the play-by-play. I plan on re-watching the game tomorrow or wednesday evening on NFL.com’s “Game Rewind” (while it’s free). You can still watch highlights during MNF on NFL.com, but the full game isn’t available in that time slot, but is later going here.
I will admit — I got the video up and rolling as the Redskins were driving down the field. I looked over at Mrs. Detfan1979 and said “If Washington punches this in, I’ll come work on the house and watch the game later… Holy &#$%” as I watched Levy just hammer Portis out of bounds on 3rd down a good solid yard short of the goal line. Last season that would have been a TD. Even last week. Not with Levy. Then I was still in stunned shock as White and Foote wrapped up Portis, and Levy smartly dove in and pushed Portis’ should back so that he couldn’t extend his arm or the ball into the goal line. Dizon also played a great game. Ernie who? Talk about a deep, talented LB corps (Bing made a couple of great special teams plays)!!
Totally hooked, I just couldn’t get up as the Lions drove 99 yards (not a misprint) — 99 yards for a TD. 99! No safety on a boneheaded play. No crazy 3rd down end around for a loss of 20. The Lions were running straight through Haynesworth, the $100 million dollar man as Man-Ram just launched into him play after play, wearing the big man down as Ramirez seemed to feed off the slaughter. The running game was responding with 34K picking up yardage in chunks.
Sure, the first half was dominating for the Lions — eating up loads of time off the clock while putting points on the board. The 3rd quarter was more difficult, especially after 34K went down. (PFT has him as week to week, but the Lions won’t say anything until the injury report Friday) They ran ok after that - but it wasn’t the same. The Oline and Kevin Smith had a kind of symbiotic awareness going on in the first half — even if there shouldn’t have been anything there, Smith would be 2 yards, 3 yards, 4 yards down the field. The Oline kept confident, and the defense ended up back on its’ heels as Smith ended the day rushing for 6.3 ypc. 6 yards per carry! He has progress in yards per carry each week, going 1.3 vs the Saints, 3.5 vs the Vikings, and now 6.3 (as per SI.com game-by-game stats). The Line is gelling, and he is finding a groove — lets hope the injury doesn’t set him back.
The Lions still made a lot of mistakes, and that is only to be expected. But in a game that was not only winnable, but in which the Lions had what would be considered close to an even matchup, they imposed their will on the Redskins and came out on top. Ty was on the edge of his seat til the clock ran out, but I knew the Lions were going to win earlier in the game. After getting stuffed at the goal line early, Zorn didn’t go for 4th and half a yard near midfield later in the game. A few snaps later, the Lions were past mid-field and on their way to scoring more points. Zorn was afraid. He was afraid of getting 6 inches on the Detroit defense. Zorn was AFRAID— and this fear permeated the play of his team all game long. (For a contrarian view to part of this, check out this great story at Advance NFL Stats.com) This came after considering a 50 yard attempt by Hanson “points on the board” just before one of my favorite plays of the game — Stafford’s 3rd and 15 20+ yard scramble up the middle of the field;
Weaving through defenders and refusing to go down until he was well past the first down marker and diving forward for more yards as he got wrapped up; this is the kind of gutsy, bold QB play that as Lions fans we are used to seeing from other teams. He hopped up — smiled at his Oline and his team, pumped up — and said louder than words to Washington in his actions “I’m going to punch this ball into the end zone if I have to do it myself, and you can’t stop me.” Announcers at that point used the often dreaded, usually in reference to a certain #4 phrase: “He’s just having fun out there.” About a Lions QB. Not so dreaded when its your guy “having fun out there”!!
Now, I’m not sending Stafford to Canton or the Lions to the playoffs. They are decided underdogs the next two weeks before the bye against a surging Chicago, and a reeling Pittsburgh. There are still a lot of issues with this team. But they will bring it every week. They will grow. They will Learn. They will improve. They will be competitive. They will finish. They canWIN!