Detroit Lions Bungle Their Way to Victory in the Worst Way

…And it was awesome.

No, I’m not going to sit here and talk about how terrible the Detroit Lions are, or give credit to the Packers and say that they ‘gave the game away’.  Seriously, though, what kind of game was that?  The first half of the game saw the same offensive ineptitude we’ve come to expect from this coaching staff, with little flair or creativity to speak of.  However, the defense — a defense that has been one of the worst in the league, a defense starting a reserve nickelback at corner and all backups at defensive tackle, a defense that saw more big plays than third down stops, more touchdowns than punts — this defense was suddenly, incredibly, good.

Now, there were missteps on defense, and it wasn’t all as fantastic as the stats made it look like it was in the first half.  Several plays where Aaron Rodgers deciding to do his best 2015 Peyton Manning impression and invade the field with ducks. Lions defenders were simply beat and the ball was so off target it didn’t matter. Many times the pass rush would see six or even seven rushers against five offensive linemen and still not find home.  Yet, as they often did in 2014, the run defense was impenetrable and there were these strange things happening in the secondary that Detroit Lions fans are not accustomed to seeing: cornerbacks were covering wide receivers and forcing the quarterback to look elsewhere.

Where did this defense come from?  Who were all these people?  A quick recap of the standouts seems in order:

Darius slayIsa QuddusDiggsQuinButler

And that’s just the secondary. Other guys who made a huge impact in the toughest game on the Lions schedule:

  • Caraun Reid – The former 5th round pick flashed in training camp then suffered an injury in preseason.  Got his second career sack on Aaron Rodgers, which is none too shabby.
  • Gabe Wright – The rookie from Auburn hasn’t lived up to his 3rd round billing (Lions traded their 2016 3rd rounder to pick him in the 4th), until this week when he was wrecking shop on one of football’s best interior offensive lines.
  • Tahir Whitehead – You may remember him as a top 5 middle linebacker last season, or more recently the Lions 5th linebacker for reasons that defy logic. Netted a sack, a critical pass deflection, and 7 solo tackles.

If your first response to many of these players was “Who?” you probably aren’t alone.  I follow the team closer than most fanalysts™, so I know who all of them are, but that didn’t lessen the shock of seeing them play the way so well against a division rival in their house. It took a lot of guys who haven’t been playing to suddenly play very well for this game to happen.

Yet, the team only managed to barely win when Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby uber shanked a 52 yard field goal attempt that would have sealed the win. There were a lot of such key plays.  They were fighting for the loss, in typical Detroit Lions “Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” fashion. I’m not knocking the team, mind you, but let’s just break down the final series of events in this game that, I remind you, was a win against a team they haven’t beaten in their state in two and a half decades:

Montage strip lions packers

  1. Up 12 to 3 in the 4th quarter.
  2. Just under 11 minutes left in the game, Lions face a crucial 3rd and 1, decide to run a FB dive (Hasn’t worked all season) behind their awful line. Fails. Punt.
  3. Facing a 3rd and 9, Lions force a 3 and out! No, pass interference, Packers keep driving.
  4. 3rd and 2, Aaron Rodgers tries to force it deep to James Jones, pass is deflected by Darius Slay!  Penalty on GB for holding, which Detroit declines? That happened.
  5. 3rd and 12, Packers complete a pass to Cobb for 20 yards.  Lions had their reserve safety covering him due to injuries in their secondary.
  6. Eventual and inevitable touchdown, extra point. Game is now 12-10.
  7. Lions march all the way downfield for a touchdown before the 2 minute warning!  Hooray!  They nail this extra point, its’ a two score game, a win!
  8. Lions miss the extra point.  Fans everywhere throw their beer at their televisions because years of being a Lions fan has devalued beer and regard for electronics. Game is 18-10.
  9. James Starks fumbles! Lions recover in their own red zone!  Game over, man, game over!
  10. Nope, Starks had an elbow down, so no fumble.
  11. Something called a Perillo happens and the Packers get another touchdown, 18-16.  Inevitable two point conversion attempt coming, since the Lions are down to some corner they signed a day before the game.
  12. Guy who has been a Detroit Lion for less than 48 hours deflects Aaron Rodgers pass, surely that’s game, right? Onside kicks only have like a 7% success rate.
  13. Calvin Johnson nabs the onside kick!  Then drops it.  Recovered by Green Bay.
  14. Incomplete, incomplete, 3rd down conversion, spike.  8 seconds left, fringe of field goal range.
  15. Short pass to get a little closer.
  16. 52 yard field goal attempt that was either a complete muff or deflected by the holder’s fingers.

Has anything that wacky happened in the history of the NFL?  I mean, yeah, probably, but not in the history of the Detroit Lions playing at Lambeau field.  I’ll take the win any day of the week, even if it was as close to an accidental win as you’ll ever see. So rant all you want, football fans.  For better or worse, you were entertained.

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