After one of the toughest weeks I have been through in quite some time, Sunday was finally a time where I got a chance to relax a little. Blue Turtle-Neck? Check. Lions Embroidered Logo T-Shirt over it? Check. Lions Pleather Jacket? Check. Lions Baseball Cap? Check. Honolulu Blue Undies? Umm…too much information. Snacks? Oh yeah. Game? Ummm….Game? Helooooooo NFL, why can’t I watch the game on TV?? (you all know my feeling on the blackout rules, so no further rant.)
Never fear, Internet is here. But wait! As Big Al Beaton (congrats on the Mlive gig) notates, finding an internet stream with moving video (not just disjointed snapshots and dislocated sound) was not just near impossible…it was… impossible. Fortunately, Internet radio was much more reliable. Crisp and clear comes the announcers’ voices as the Browns began picking apart whoever it was the Lions signed last week to play in a constantly injury riddled secondary. NFL, SI, I must have had 4 or 5 different game trackers up as I listened to the game…visualizing the field, seeing the plays happen…
Sadly visualizing Lions defensive players hobbling off the field, only to be replaced by guys who were themselves banged up not too long before. More Toast was made in the secondary. I sat on my brother in law’s couch, pausing the radio unable to listen for a moment to the Happy’s Pizza commercials as I stared forlornly at the 24 – 3 score.
Then it started — TD pass to Aaron Brown. Pettigrew and Smith racking up Receiving yards. TD pass to Smith. The patchwork defense holds… Long bomb Stafford to CJ TD!! I couldn’t see a thing and I could see all of it clearly in the mind’s eye. As the Browns tagged in a FG it occurred to me that this is how sports were a long time ago. This is how most Lions fans who couldn’t get a TV broadcast of the game would have been ”watching” Bobby Layne and crew lead the Lions’ Championship teams.
I was almost jumping up and down as the second half went back and forth. TD Pass – Will Heller! Browns back in the lead! Some guy I vaguely remember the Lions signing to be a backup and special teamer lets the Browns get away with another TD…Oh no! Safety! I could feel the anguish welling up inside me. I started to lose the vision of resolve… I couldn’t see the players, and that “same old Lions” feeling started to creep in…
Stafford is marching them down the field…hope starts to shine, ever so softly its Honolulu Blue flame…INT. The light fades to black… Browns — get the 3rd down conversion! They are just going to run out the clock and win it by six… No! Lions get a stop! And the Browns passed it!! Stafford has about a minute and a half to get then 80+ yards!! You could feel it in the announcers, you could feel it from the fans in the stands, you could feel it permeating the stadium, the game, and everyone listening. This was it — Stafford was not going to let this one get away!
Stunned silence as the shock of injury, and time gone as the team hits that seemingly ever present brick wall: Stafford is on the ground. The Browns tackled two WR in the end zone! Stafford is on the ground. Pass Interference is called – then an injury timeout which the Lions do not have. Stafford is off the field…and still on the ground. Due to rule, the Lions get a free play with no time left on the clock… But Stafford is still on the ground. Desperation is palatable in the air as Daunte rushes into the game cold. Stafford is not on the field… Browns blink first. Timeout.
Then the Honolulu blue fires of excitement blindingly roared to life like a beacon to the hopeless: Stafford has run back into the game, obviously in pain. One more play. Start what he finished. Stafford to Pettigrew – TD!
Hanson nails the extra point as a new Era of Lions football begins. Right now the future is young, but the Honolulu Blue lights in the distance are bright — and getting closer every day.
I can’t wait to watch the game tonight on NFL rewind; I hope what I see is just as good as what I “saw”.