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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Game 16: Lions at Green Bay Packers

Nearly.

The now 10-6 Detroit Lions nearly broke the 20 year losing streak at Lambeau Field today where they lost to the Green Bay Packers 41-45.

Matthew Stafford was 36 of 59 for 520 yards, 5 TD's and 2 INT's. That brought Staffords total passing yards this season to 5,038... nearly enough to break Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards. Never mind that both Drew Brees AND Tom Brady both broke Dan Marino's record this year... it was a tremendous season for a Detroit Lion Quarterback any way you want to look at it. Stafford did break another Bobby Lane record though, most games in a single season with 3 or more TD's (Stafford = 7, Layne = 6).

Calvin Johnson had 11 receptions for 244 yards and a TD today which was nearly enough for him to break Herman Moore's single season reception yardage record established in 2005, just 15 yards short.

Titus Young had 4 catches for 24 yards and 2 TD's, nearly had 3 TD's but the refs incorrectly called his other one complete out of bounds and because of a couple earlier bad calls by the officials the Lions were out of challenges. The Lions did get a field goal out of it but they could've used those 4 points (see final score).

So how did the Lions lose this game? The Lions defense was unable to keep pressure on backup quarterback Matt Flynn who threw for 480 yards, 6 TD's and 1 INT. It's that simple. But why weren't they able to keep pressure on Flynn? A number of reasons and you have to add them all up to get the result the Lions got.

1. Flynn may be a backup but he doesn't hold the ball forever before throwing it, he has a similar release to Rodgers and fits well in their scheme.

2. The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends that played in Green Bay are able to get open and get yards after the catch, that isn't news, everyone knows they are good at that.

3. Lions defense is entirely dependent on getting a pass rush from the front 4. They were unable to create that pressure on a regular basis this game. Note: Williams was unable to play this game, Fairley isn't close to 100%, and Hill started out strong but faded away later in the game.

4. Delmas didn't play and others are playing hurt. However, that shouldn't matter as the Packers didn't play some of their starters either and others may be banged up a bit. Difference here is the Packers are a little deeper in secondary depth, the Lions can't afford to be without that many starters on D if they are to play against a top notch O, which everyone knows the Packers are. Despite all that, the Lions nearly beat the Packers in Lambeau... the Lions D was no worse then the Packers D, not really.

It's possible (if the Lions can get past the New Orleans Saints this coming Saturday) that the Lions could end up playing the Packers in Lambeau again this post season, and this time it might be for a chance to play in the superbowl... so as far as breaking records go, I'd much prefer the Lions to win THAT game then THIS game... should it come to that.

All the Lions lost today was their 5th seed spot in the playoffs, they are the 6th seed and are playing toe to toe with the big boys, because even if it's hard for us fans to grasp it, the Lions are now one of the big boys too.

Don't believe me? Well, let's take a look at the quarterback passing record... and see where the Lions 23 year old QB is on the list...

1. Drew Brees: 5,476 yards in 2011
2. Tom Brady: 5,235 yards in 2011
3. Dan Marino: 5,084 yards in 1984
4. Drew Brees: 5,069 yards in 2008
5. Matthew Stafford: 5,038 yards in 2011

That's not a typo, that's not a fluke, that's real numbers that are real hard to get unless you are one of the big boys.

Anyway, for 20 teams their season is over. They are flipping coins to determine their draft order (if they are tied with anyone else) and getting ready to fire coaches.

The Lions are not one of those teams. They are getting ready to play the Saints again this year in New Orleans and they have just as good a chance of winning that game as the Saints do. It'll be loud, it'll be tough, but it's not nearly the impossible task that it used to be. In fact, the Saints are going to have their hands full, especially after the Lions coaches get done challenging the Lions defensive players all week.

In preseason (you can go see my September blog post) I predicted the Lions would go 10-6 this year, take 2nd in the division, and make the playoffs. I was wrong on two games, they won one I thought they'd lose and lost one I thought they'd win, but as for the rest of it I'm dead one. So here's my first post season prediction...

Lions beat the Saints in New Orleans with a score of 30 to 28.

Things aren't nearly as bad as some seem to think.

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