Sunday, October 26, 2014
Here is something that I have never typed... the "Lucky" 6-2 Detroit Lions beat the unlucky 2-6 Atlanta Falcons 22-21 on a beautiful day in England. In throwing 2 TDs Matthew Stafford is now at a NFL career 120 TDs and breaks the long standing Lions record of 118 TDs held by Bobby Layne (Stafford went to the same High School as the great Bobby Layne too... nearly 50 years apart). In fact Matthew Stafford was 24 of 47 (for an ugly 51.06%) for 325 yards to go along with his 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Just for comparison, Matt Ryan was 20 of 27 (for an impressive 74.07%) and 228 yards along with the same 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Yet the Lions were the winning team, and many would say, very lucky.
In order for the Lions to win the game they needed a full 60 minutes plus 4 more seconds of playing time. Normally that means time expires before the game could be won... but the refs called a delay of game penalty with 4 seconds remaining on the game clock as the ball was hiked... which Prater kicked... and missed. The full 60 minutes were up. But the play never happened so the Lions were backed up 5 yards, 4 seconds were put back on the play clock, and Prater got another chance... this time from 48 yards out... and this time there were no flags and the Lions (well, Prater) made the field goal to bring the score from 19-21 to win it 22-21. In super duper slo-mo it kind of looks like the delay of game penalty was called with perhaps a half a second on the clock and just as the ball was hiked... more or less simultaneously. Typically that never gets called. Or typically, even if called, the kick would've been good the first time and the Lions would've gotten that penalty only to miss it on the 2nd try. But not this time, this time, it was good for the win. Yep, lucky. Guess this is not the "Same ole Lions".
The Falcons scored all 21 points in the first half. The Lions scored all 22 points in the second half. That's some major half time adjustments right there. Did I ever mention I like this new coaching staff? Well, I do. Anyway, it seemed like the NFL's #1 defense was blowing it all game long... and it seemed like Stafford was also blowing it all game long, and indeed there were many errors during the 60 minutes of game time... but the defense only actually allowed 78 yards rushing and 228 yards passing... so they did their part (despite missing a major part of the their run defense in C.J. Mosley who was suspended 2 games by the Lions and sent home to the USA alone yesterday; and despite Fairley getting hurt early in the 2nd half and going to the locker room)... plus Stafford had the same TDs to INT ratio as Ryan with 97 more passing yards... I'm rambling... ah, anyway, the bad plays and the lopsided score made it seem like the Lions had regressed and were going to lose... well, actually, they were losing for 60 minutes... but did I mention the Lions won? You see, the refs have, in the past, made it so hard for the Lions to win a game and in fact many times were a major factor in the loss that I am simply at a loss as how to write about the refs helping the Lions to win a game... even if they didn't... more or less (there was that questionable non-call on the 2 point conversion earlier, along with some other if'y calls here and there)... okay, I guess I'll just have to get over how lucky the Lions were and accept they won the game fair and square despite all the obstacles they had to overcome.
The Lions now head into their bye week, plenty of time to get over their jet lag, plenty of time to heal up Reggie Bush, and Calvin Johnson, and Eric Ebron, and Fauria and Pettigrew and perhaps Fairley, and all the others on the team that are hurting... or at least plenty of time for most of them to heal up... and perhaps plenty of time for me to get used to the new Lions, or not, as the case may be. The next game will be November 9th in Detroit versus the Miami Dolphins, and I do believe it'll be a great contest. I would even predict a Lions win if I were still in the prediction business. But I gave that up a few weeks back so instead I'll just say I'm looking forward to the matchup, and if need be, I will even try to get used to the Detroit Lions being, ah, lucky.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 6:42 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The 5-2 Detroit Lions barely beat the New Orleans Saints by a score of 24-23 at home today. It was never a sure thing (unless you were sure the Lions were going to lose) and the Saints aren't always all that great on the road, but in the end the Lions did just enough to pull off a win. If you missed the final 4 or so minutes of the game you missed the Lions scoring 14 points to make up for the 2 scores they were behind to seal the deal with their defense. That's right, Brees had time to drive to within field goal range but the Lions (currently #1 ranked) defense (yes, I said DEFENSE) held... eventually getting the ball back to the Lions Offense on downs.
This minor miracle (the win) was performed without the help of Calvin Johnson, or Eric Ebron, or Joseph Fauria, or with tons of yardage. In fact, there was only 59 yards rushing for the Lions in the entire game... and Stafford only threw for 299 yards, completing 27 of 40 (67.5%) with 2 TDs and 2 INTs (1 of which was definitely not his fault). As a group, I would say this team is getting there.
No, they are not a well oiled machine. No, Stafford isn't garnering the attention that a Peyton Manning would. Some would even call the offense boring and semi-predictable for the majority of each game... but you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. Golden Tate had 10 receptions for 154 yards and a TD. The next best player on offense was RB Joique Bell with his 18 rushing attempts for 48 yards and a TD along with 2 catches for 19 yards. Then WR Corey Fuller with 3 catches for 44 yards and a TD. Multiple players are contributing to the win, it's not just Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson any more.
The defense is definitely using the right combination of speed, youth, intelligence and coaching to excel. I was wondering if their #1 rank was earned or a disguise due to them playing poor offenses to date. After watching this game, and despite a few hiccups here and there, I no longer have as many of those kind of doubts. I too am getting there.
The offense still has a ways to go, but if the defense can continue to keep them in the games while the offense grows into their own skin, this team has a chance, no matter how slim, to make some noise in January... as in, the "p" word. It won't be easy, or automatic, and there is still many obstacles to overcome (not the least of which is the upcoming game played in England), but more then one team recently has made noise in the post season with the recipe that begins with a great defense. Before I jinx it I shall say no more on the matter... this week.
Those reading this may have noticed I missed the past couple of weeks of blog entries. My father (Terry Nielsen) passed away during the game two weeks ago and his funeral (up by Mackinaw City) was last Saturday, so needless to say I was unavailable and rather unwilling to write anything. My father taught me a great many things about life, more then I could possibly re-iterate, so I won't get into that in any great detail, but one thing he stressed more then anything else was about planning ahead. Being prepared. These hard fought football games, teammates helping other teammates to win despite whatever comes up, even the next game in England instead of in Atlanta, will go a long way to prepare the Lions for a possible playoff run. They need to take nothing for granted and continue the hard work day after day, game after game, and work together to overcome the next obstacle, because there will always be a "next obstacle". Learning just how to do that and trusting your fellow teammates to help with that is a critical ingredient to having success. In that regard, I think the Lions are indeed getting there.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 8:25 PM