Thursday, October 7, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

October 7th, 2010 | by detfan1979 |

Before I move on to the Rams – Lions match-up, the endgame in the Lions at Packers matchup has been nagging at me. The final drive, and the punt vs field goal debate with 6:39 left in the game. While I was helping the Little Pink Lions pick up their room, I found one of those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. I’m sure most of you have seen them — you read a page or two, choose your action, and turn to the page indicated. “If you open the door, turn to page 46. If you go to the next door, turn to page 32″ Unfortunately, most of the time page 46 involved being incinerated by a rabid chipmunk with a flamethrower and and page 32 involved falling into a pit. In those books, one wrong choice led down a path to a point where all you had was bad endings, two choices in how you end up — both of them bad. There was typically one right ending, and it was an early choice that decided whether you were on a winning or losing track. I’m not sure where that point in the game was, if there was one — but for today, lets look at that last doomed choice: Punt vs Kick

#1 – Punt, turn to page 23.

The arguments for this seem to get lost since the defense got roasted and shoved around on the Green Bay final drive. The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers had been held in check the entire second half. While most of that was them not seeing the field thanks to long Detroit drives on offense, the Packers had not been able to find a consistent rhythm for some time at that point in the game. The run game, in particular, was atrocious having gained only 43 yards when the Green Bay offense took over on their own 13 yard line with 6:32 remaining. Considering how well the Lions had defended the run at that point in the game, it was a good gamble that Detroit would be able to get a stop and make a drive for the game winning field goal. It was also a gamble they lost as Green Bay raced down to the Detroit 24 yard line in just 4:40 while bleeding the clock racking up 47 yards rushing — as much in 5 minutes as the previous 55. They ended on the Detroit 13 in almost sure scoring position when time finally ran out.

Page 23: You keep opening door after door, but run out time before you can find the golden football. You Lose. Go Back and start again.

#2 – Field Goal, turn to page 16

This option stems from the fact that the Lions lost the game with no further scoring, down by one point. I keep reading over and over that the Lions would have won if Hanson had nailed the long FG — then Green Bay couldn’t have run out the clock. One major fallacy with saying the field goal would have won the game instead of letting the defense lose it is that there was still 6:39 seconds left in the game at that point! The field goal would have given Detroit a 2 point lead. Green Bay would have been driving to bleed the clock and get into field goal range. Guess what? Here is the final drive play-by-play from

Green Bay Packers at 06:32
1-10-GB 13 (6:32) 30-J.Kuhn up the middle to GB 20 for 7 yards (26-L.Delmas).

2-3-GB 20 (5:53) 30-J.Kuhn left guard to GB 25 for 5 yards (49-Z.Follett).

1-10-GB 25 (5:09) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 80-D.Driver ran ob at GB 37 for 12 yards (39-C.Brown).

1-10-GB 37 (4:34) 32-B.Jackson left tackle to GB 34 for -3 yards (75-T.McBride, 92-C.Avril).

2-13-GB 34 (3:51) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers right end to 50 for 16 yards (27-A.Smith).

1-10- (3:02) 30-J.Kuhn left guard to DET 44 for 6 yards (39-C.Brown).

2-4-DET 44 (2:19) 30-J.Kuhn left guard to DET 39 for 5 yards (49-Z.Follett, 55-L.Johnson).

Two-Minute Warning
1-10-DET 39 (2:00) 12-A.Rodgers pass short left to 86-D.Lee to DET 24 for 15 yards (49-Z.Follett).

Timeout #2 by DET at 01:52.
1-10-DET 24 (1:52) 30-J.Kuhn right end to DET 22 for 2 yards (26-L.Delmas, 49-Z.Follett).

2-8-DET 22 (1:07) 30-J.Kuhn right end to DET 21 for 1 yard (90-N.Suh).

Timeout #3 by DET at 00:55.
3-7-DET 21 (:55) 30-J.Kuhn up the middle to DET 13 for 8 yards (26-L.Delmas; 58-A.Palmer).

1-10-DET 13 (:12) 12-A.Rodgers kneels to DET 14 for -1 yards.


Look at the clock and field position — it only took Green Bay 4:40 to drive down to the Detroit 24 yard line – well within field goal range. Is it a sure thing? No. Is it probable considering how good a kickerMason Crosby is in that range? Yes. Highly. Keep in mind that whether they were trying to stop them from bleeding out the clock, or bleeding out the clock and getting into field goal range, the goal is the same. It’s not like the difference between holding them out of the endzone versus holding them out of field goal range. Whether the Lions punted or kicked the field goal, they needed to stop the Packers from advancing down the field.

They did not.

In the game as it occurred, Green Bay held the lead and was trying to burn time off the clock — and did a very good job of it. Even in the scenario where the Lions are up by two and Green Bay needs to be sure they have time there was 6:32 left — I have a hard time believing the Lions while on defense could have burned off enough extra time to keep the Pack out of field goal range given how much time the Pack bled out during their 4:40 drive to field goal range. Detroit would have needed to stop them, or somehow hold them further back the field using more time than they did. Kicking the field goal means you likely lose the same way Green Bay did against Chicago the week before — Field Goal sails through the uprights snatching victory away as time expires.

Page 16: You force open the door and there it is — the golden football! Clutching it in your arms, you run back through the door — and get tripped! The Golden Football flies out of your hands, and bounces down the stairs. As you go to chase after it, time expires… you lose. Go Back and start again.

As I re-watched the game again, it occurred to me that last call was just like the choose your own adventure book. At that point in the game/book, either choice leads to a loss. There were other turning points earlier in the game, but as far as the final drive is concerned, you can make the punt into a successful field goal, and you are just choosing your own ending: Time Expires down by one point, or Green Bay kicks a chip-shot field goal with :06 remaining. Either way, you lose. Go back and start over against the Rams.

Each game is like a choose your own adventure book — every play leads to a choice — and the outcome of that leads to another. Sometimes, we need to look beyond the last choice — or even one pivotal choice — and look instead to what led us there in the first place. I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque…

Rating: 8.2/10 (5 votes cast)
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8 Responses to “Choose Your Own Adventure”

  1. By Zac on Oct 7, 2010

    I loved Choose Your Own Adventure Books! Good post.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  2. By KCLionFan on Oct 7, 2010

    Awesome analogy, ‘79! I don’t suppose this sort of reasoning sinks in to the trolls, though.

    I’m still hoping for 6 wins this year. Win 1 starts NOW!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  3. By Myopian on Oct 8, 2010

    Wonderful post, I really enjoy your well reasoned, lucid thoughts on the Lions. Please remove BladesBoyd from The Lions Conregation, his views are all rhetoric and BS from the “hater” p.o.v., Brian VanOchten almost seems rational next to him.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  4. By detfan1979 on Oct 8, 2010

    You actually hit on exactly why we have blades on the panel. I want to be sure and have the range of personalities and feelings covered — even if I don’t agree with them. There is certainly a subset of fans that do, and I think that each member appeals to different groups of readers at different times. I tend to be way to optimistic and koolaid drinking. Ty is the man who is in touch with the emotion of the fans with an analytical edge, Al is tongue in cheek cynical with a touch of hope, netrat is great with the pictures we tend to overlook and more rationality, Phil has a more humorous slant but also coming from more close contact with the team than the rest of us. Steve has been writing about the Lions for quite some time and brings a long view highly tinged with the glasses of a life long fan. Zac brings a fresh face to the table aimed at the casual fan.

    Each writer has their moments of different styles, views, etc. but I feel like the spectrum is covered for all the types of Lions fans out there, and lets each reader see a different take than they may normally gravitate to.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  5. By Renegade on Oct 8, 2010

    It seems that your supposition is that the plays and gains the Packers made after the punt would be exactly the same as if the Lions had made a field goal and then a kick-off. That logic escapes me. There is no knowing what would have occurred after a field goal (or for that matter a missed one). With a lead the defense may have been more inspired or the Packers would have called a different set of plays with different results.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  6. By detfan1979 on Oct 8, 2010

    There is no knowing for sure, but the first point is that it was NOT a guaranteed win if they kick the field goal and make it.

    My logic was this: on the final drive the goal of the packers was to pick up first downs while bleeding out the clock. The goal of the lions was to get a stop without allowing the packers into scoring position and run out the clock. The differences in goals to achieve would be offset by the need of the opposite team.

    The situations were so similar that similar play calls could be expected from green bay and Detroit whether it was detroit or green bay holding the lead due to the time left and nature of the contest and score – a fg wins it for either team.

    There is certainly anything could have happened. For me, the similarity of situation was close that it appeared the most likely outcome.

    You can say they get a defensive stop and end up winning the game — however, whether they kick the FG or punt they are depending on the defense to get a stop to clinch the win.

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
  7. By Clusterfox on Oct 8, 2010

    Df Thanks for the read.
    Its been about 3 weeks since I could read anything on the Lions. The Commemts, and Posters have been brutal. I consider myself a Realist, but I’m way more positive than most.(maybe Accepting aswell) It Baffles me how many can say we would have won had we kicked it, and at the same time they don’t understand that we would’ve had to stop GB anyways. I’m sick and tired of the Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda Garbage. Here is the truth that I’ve been holding on to as of late. Watching the last 3 Primetime games, We looked like a significantly better team than CHI vs GB(+they won),CHI vs NYG, and MIA vs NEP. Looks are looks, but for the first time in several years I saw teams that I would truly be embarrased to be rooting for.
    Go Lions!

    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
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