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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Game 15 - 2010 @ Miami Dolphins

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good: the Lions win game #5 on the year against the Miami Dolphins; their 3rd in a row and their 2nd road game in a row.

The bad: Due to injuries there were many guys on the Lions defense playing that normally wouldn't be playing who were getting abused regularly by the Dolphins.

The ugly: Some how, some way, the Lions made the Dolphins team look ugly by timely interceptions at the end of the 4th quarter by Levy and Vasher (yes, Nathan Vasher).

There were many other plays that were either good, or bad, or ugly. Many by the same players at different points in the game. Pettigrew had quite of few of each, as did Vasher actually. Hill at quarterback, another Hill in the secondary, and various other players all contributed to make it harder then it had to be, and also to seal the win when needed.

The team continues to play hard, fight harder, and now all that work is turning into wins. They are getting better as the year progressed, pretty much as I figured they would (you'd have to scroll way down to pre pre-season blog posts though to see that though). No, I didn't predict all the injuries, or the losses early for that matter. They won't hit my 7 wins in 2010 prediction. But they are a young team learning and that bodes very well for the future.

Next week's final game should be the final game of Bret Favre's career, assuming he actually retires and stays retired. If he can play at all you know he will. I hope to see a great battle for the final game of the season... followed up by the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to a new CBA before the Superbowl. But I digress.

There was good in the Lions - Dolphins game, there was bad, and yes there was ugly, but it was also a win. When it comes right down to it, that's what matters in the NFL, and that's what the Lions got.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Game 14 - 2010 @ Tampa Bay

The End

The Lions win this one 23-20 in overtime. Yes, I said win. So ends the 26 game road losing streak, the new NFL record road game losing streak. But that wasn't the only thing to end. The Lions also won 2 games in a row, ending that streak (of having not done so in years) as well.

It was Rayner, not Hanson (who is on injured reserve), who first tied the game in the final seconds of regulation and then it was Rayner again with the game winning field goal in overtime. I wonder if the Lions will carry two kickers on their roster next year.

Stanton made himself look good by completing passes to super talent such as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew. Maurice Morris ran hard and piled on the yards. The defense is getting needed play time in with their depth and the defensive line is continuing to play hard and fast, a good view of what the future has in store for the players, coaches and fans. Sure the defense needs some more talent at some starting positions, that's where the 2011 draft comes into play, but it's good to see the coaches making use of the players they have now.

It was also nice to see some decent officiating for the 2nd game in a row. Hopefully that (the bad officiating) has ended as well.

Lions play in Florida next week against Miami then they come home for their final game of the season. Final game of Bret Favre's career as well (a truly momentous occasion)! It sure would be nice to see the Lions end Favre's career by ending another bad streak, divisional games (they haven't won one of those in years either).

So keep it up Lions... you're fighting hard, learning on the job, playing to win, and this Lions fan doesn't want to see that end.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Game 13 - Green Bay Packers @ Home

Surprise!

The Lions win their 3rd game of the season 7-3 against the powerful Green Bay Packers. Of course, Packer fans are complaining that their starting quarterback was injured during the game and their 2nd string QB just couldn't get the job done... never mind that the Lions started their game with their 3rd string QB and without many other starters as well (I believe they have 14 players total on IR now). What did suck was that Rodgers is my starting QB in several FFL contests and now I may be out of the playoffs, but I'm not complaining.

It was a pretty ugly game, both defenses (yes, the Lions defense too) played hard and well. Surprising many football fans, national media types, and the Packers themselves. Actually, since the Lions offense was supposed to be the strength of the team this year, it probably surprised a large number of Lions fans too. Despite the fact that the Lions defense has been playing fairly well lately.

You have to give some credit to the offense though... there were a lot of run plays in this game that kept the Packers offense sitting down. I would suggest the Lions get on with signing long term some of those that helped, like Logan for example.

I was surprised the officiating was fairly competent and fair this game. I know I shouldn't be that way, but some of the games this year have jaded me in that regard.

There were a LOT of things that could have gone better. On offense, on Defense, on Special Teams. What surprises many though is that the Lions have not started to just mail it in. They aren't making it to post-season this year so the tendency for a player to not give it his all has to be overcome. It was hinted at in a previous game that this happened, and I'm not saying it was so then, but if there was any minds starting to wonder the coaching staff has corrected it completely. This was a very hard fought game, right up to the end.

Now if the Lions can remember just exactly how hard you have to play to win in this league then good things can start to happen. I think it's starting to sink in... and I think many will be surprised at how well the Lions do in the future.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Game 12 - Chicago Bears @ Home

What starts well, ends well.

It does if your a Bears fan anyway. From the first play of the game when Rob Sims gets penalized for a false start to watching the Bears kneel down 3 times after the 2 minute warning for the win, Bears fans had a better day then Lions fans.

There were some good things, like Stantons play (for the most part), Avril's sacks (3 of them but none late when needed the most), Burleson did some good and bad (more good then bad). As did Pettigrew (who could've had a great game with a few less drops). There were even a few GREAT plays...

53 seconds to go in 2nd quarter, down 10-14, the Lions run a play with Best who bounces it outside then they follow it with a great catch and run by Calvin Johnson to score a TD in 2 plays (91 yards). After halftime, 50 seconds in, Avril forces a fumble and it's recovered by the Lions at the Chicago 9 yard line, but the Bears hold and the Lions are forced to kick a field goal. That would be the last points they score in the game. That would also be the end of the GREAT plays.

There wasn't much but defense the rest of the 3rd quarter from both teams (not counting the Bears' kicker getting his career record longest field goal of 54 yards). Then with 12 minutes to go in the game Stanton tries to complete a pass to a well covered receiver on 4th and 1, turning the ball over on downs. The Bears then drive down the field to the 22 yard line... on 1st and 10 Cutler rolls out and runs 7 yards, tackled by Suh, who was penalized for tackling the runner (Cutler). They called it unnecessary roughness, but it was only a push from a strong man. In other words, the Refs helped the Bears advance the ball and more importantly got the Lions players (and fans) thinking the refs were going to once again hand the game over. Next play Cutler throws a TD pass to the 3rd string TE. The Lions failed to make any more decent plays on O or D from there on. Finally, at the 2 minute warning, the Bears complete a pass to the 3rd string TE again... for a first down... the Lions with no time outs left and face the loss standing up for the final 3 plays.

Lions lose the game 20-24.

Some questions arise from the game. Why is the officiating so horrid this year? Can it be fixed? Where are the big plays by the Lions late in the game when needed the most? Can THAT be fixed? Where are the wins? Will that be fixed? Will the players union quit trying to drum up support from politicians, chambers of commerce, fans and anyone else and start negotiating? but I digress...

What starts well ends well. Unfortunately, this season for Lions fans did not start well, and it's not looking like it's going to end well either.