Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Game 16 - Lions @ Green Bay Packers


The 11-5 Detroit Lions lose to the 12-4 Green Bay Packers 20-30 in Lambeau Field, again, for the 23rd year in a row allowing the Packers to clinch the NFC North, get a bye week in the playoffs, and get home field in the playoffs as the number 2 seed. Had the Lions won they would have had all of those things for themselves, the record, the bye week, the banner, the home field, all of it. Instead though, the Lions found multiple ways to blow the game.

That doesn't mean the Lions are out of the playoffs though, now they get to play next week in the wildcard game on Sunday at 4:40pm et, in Dallas. Their opponents will include the former Lions head coach Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator of the Cowboys, and Scott Linehan, the former offensive coordinator for the Lions under Jim Schwartz, who has the same position in Dallas. If the current Lions players feel about these former coaches as many fans do they would do everything they can to not just win the game but to tromp on Dallas hard. Not tromp like Suh did to Rodger's leg (whether intentionally or not is yet to be judged) but figuratively, as in on the score board. Hopefully Suh will be available to play in that game. In fact, hopefully, everyone currently on the roster will be available for the game, such as the oft injured right guard Warford, the currently suspended center Raiola, and various others who have bumps and bruises here or there, not the least of which is Nick Fairley.

Where was I? Oh yeah, multiple ways to blow the game... let's start with allowing the Packers to return a punt for a touchdown, or kicking the ball off out of bounds to give them the ball on the 40, or not trying for a field goal when just in range (actually I was okay with that one). Basically special teams made mistakes and that helped the Packers win the game. But they were not alone. Bell never cradled a hand off and fumbled the ball away, Stafford tried several times to complete passes not with his feet pointing in the wrong direction but off the ground entirely (and missing the target every time horribly). The offensive line was a patchwork once again and played like it, only worse. Then the NFL's number 2 defense decided to take the day off allowing 152 yards rushing and 232 yards passing along with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions and only 1 sack. Matthew Stafford was 20 of 41 (48.78%) for 217 yards 3 TDs and 0 INTs.

I would be remiss if I didn't complain at least a little about the officiating in the Packers game. As I recall, the Packers and Lions Offensive Lines never once held anyone, the whole game. Unbelievable isn't it? Oh, and even though the Lions made a 2 point conversion it was taken back after review in which the angle I saw on tv appeared to be correctly called on the field and definitely not worth reversing... especially since earlier they gave a TD to a running Rodgers who was down before the goal line and was awarded the TD anyway. But, it wasn't the officiating that cost the Lions the game, wasn't even the Packers, it was the Lions. They and they alone get to be responsible for the outcome of the game.

Now that the Lions regular season is over and their spot in the playoffs secured (as the 6th seed) we fans got to find out their 2015 opponents (not the schedule, that comes out in April). The Lions will be playing the NFC and AFC West teams, along with their divisional foes, and the picture looks like this: ( info provided by )

Home opponents: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Away opponents: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs (in London), San Diego Chargers, and the New Orleans Saints.

Does reading that list of opponents for next year make you clinch anything? Anyway, the Lions made it to 11-5 and the playoffs. 11 wins is something they have done so few times in their history that you can count the number on one hand. They are the final wild card team and play in Dallas next week against a couple of their former coaches. All good things... except that Matthew Stafford has never ever won an away game against a team with a winning record. If that doesn't make you clinch something, then I don't know what will.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Game 15 - Lions @ Chicago Bears


The 11-4 Detroit Lions narrowly beat the 5-10 Chicago Bears 20-14 but had already been guaranteed a playoff spot before the game even started virtue of the Philadelphia Eagles losing their game this week. The Bears was an outside game, and cold, and the Lions rarely win when it's under 40 degrees out... but this time they did just enough to end whatever streak they were on there. This is also only the fourth time the Lions have won 11 games in a season, ever. On top of that, Matthew Stafford topped 4,000 yards for the fourth straight year and Calvin Johnson has once again topped 1,000 yards (I think that makes 6 years for him).

None of this information would've been the least interesting had the Lions lost and they very nearly did. Not because Chicago is a better team, or was playing better, but because of 4 plays. WR/KR Ross allowed a punt to hit him and Chicago recovered the ball in the red zone which led immediately to 7 points for them. Also on special teams, backup TE Stanford ran into the kicker giving the Bears a new set of downs which led to another 7 points. A third difference making play was Matthew Stafford's first interception, on a bad throw/decision. The forth play I am referring to was another interception that was due to Tate not taking the route that Stafford had anticipated him taking, and was therefor out of his reach, in the end zone. So basically special teams gave up the yardage necessary for the Bears to score 14 points when the defense had already stopped them and Stafford (with help from Tate) threw 2 interceptions that cost them 14 points. The score could easily have been in the area of 34 to 0. Even though they didn't lose this one, they still allowed the cold to affect them.

Matthew Stafford was 22 of 39 (56.41%) for 243 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs. Bell and Bush combined for 128 rushing yards and 2 TDs, though Bell didn't play the entire first quarter due to violating team rules (likely late for a meeting). Prater did the rest. On defense the Lions allowed only 64 yards rushing, 55 from Forte, but they did allow Clausen who hasn't played in years to be 23 of 39 (58.97%) for 181 yards 2 TDs and 1 INT. Clausen faced a much better defense and yet completed 1 more pass on the same number of attempts, Stafford really needs to focus better if the Lions are going to do anything at all in the post season.

Next up (and the last one for the regular season) is for the NFC North division title, in Green Bay. Whoever wins is the North Division champs and gets a first week bye in the playoffs, whoever loses gets a wildcard spot. Other teams will determine which seed each team will end up as. Every player on the Lions will have to do much better in the cold of Lambeau Field to win this one, and winning it could really help them not only with the bye, but home field in the playoffs. Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 Game 14 - Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings
@ Home


The now division leading 10-4 Detroit Lions narrowly beat the 6-8 Minnesota Vikings effectively taking the Vikings out of their playoff hopes by a score of 16-14. It has been a very long time since the Lions were sitting at the top of the NFC North after 15 weeks of play, but before we crown them the second coming of all thinks football let us realize they won because the free agent kicker they picked up (Prater) made all 3 field goals and the established kicker for the Vikings (Walsh) missed all 3 (very very long) field goals.

Matthew Stafford was only 17 of 28 (60.714%) for 1 TD and 0 INTs while the defense allowed Bridgewater to be 31 of 41 (75.6%) for 1 TD but 2 INTs. The Lions managed to eek out 90 yards of rushing while the Vikings only managed 76 yards. Despite these lopsided figures the true difference in the game was field position and the kickers.

Okay, the Lions safety's also contributed mightily with their 2 interceptions, without which the Lions would not be 10-4. So kudos to the Lions safeties and Matt Prater... game balls all around for them please.

I was actually worried about this game not due it being a supposed trap game, but due to the fact that N. Suh had had the flu (along with others) starting a few days ago, and back then I realized the timing was such that they could've infected many on the team earlier in the week and they would only begin to be symptomatic on Sunday (today). Not saying that is what happened, but boy the offense and defense sure looked like they were running in mud for a good part of the first quarter and a half. Then suddenly the Lions offensive coordinator held an on field meeting with all the offensive players and the next thing we know the penalties stop (on O) and things start to slowly get better (and faster). I would give the next game ball to the OC after Quinn and IH and Prater.

The Lions get to set their sites on the Bears who they play next week and who have been struggling mightily this year. The Lions need to continue to win to control their own destiny and to keep the players and fans into the game, for if I were to look ahead (and I am trying not to) the Lions could have a home playoff game (or more then one even) and it's critical that every aspect of the game fall in their favor for the wins to keep happening, after all, you don't want the kicker to be winning or losing (as happened earlier in the year) your games for you if you can help it.

One other note, if the Lions beat the Bears and the Packers lose next week... the final game of the year in Lambeau against the Packers may still be critical in that losing that game still ties the Packers and the Lions and since they would have split in head to head the additional tie breaker rules would apply... possibly (probably) making the Packers the division champs (and giving them the bye week). True the Lions would likely still make the playoffs at 11-5 as a wildcard team, and also true I am not particularly keen on having a team take a week off as the playoffs start (this isn't FFL after all, the guys need to keep up with game speed) ... I still would like to see the Lions make it deep into the playoffs no matter the consequences or obstacles... even if it means winning all the games from here on out by their street pickup (and former Lion and Bronco) kicker.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Game 13 - Detroit Lions vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Home


The 9-4 Detroit Lions took the lead in the first quarter against the 2-11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and never relinquished it, winning the 2nd to the last home game by a score of 34-17. Matthew Stafford was 26 of 34 (76.47%) for 311 yards 3 TDs and 0 INTs. A franchise QB like performance. The defense also did their part with 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, a large number of hurries and holding the Buccaneers to 26 yards rushing, 2 TDs, and only 250 passing yards. McCown barely broke 50% completions and if it weren't for Vincent Jackson the entire team would've looked like a high school team against the Lions super competitive defense. Dominating.

I could spout numbers, or play outcomes, or any number of things and it would all come down one word... dominating. The Detroit Lions dominated the Buccaneers and that's all there is to it. I'm finding it difficult to even write up a blog about this particular game... and as a Lions fan... that is a good thing.

Oh sure, there was a few things that in film the coaches will see and address, there are a number of plays that certain players would like to have back, there are even a few flags that either weren't thrown that should have been or were thrown and should not have been... but in the end, in THIS game, there can be no other outcome then for the Lions to have won the game. If one was inclined to nickname a team from this one game it could be that the Detroit Lions could now be called the Detroit Dominators. Catchy isn't it?

Next week is the final home game against the Minnesota Vikings, to be followed by 2 road games against the Bears and Packers. Three all important divisional games in what has become a very talented conference and division. There can be no room for error, the Lions need to dominate every week if they have hopes of making the post season... and with a performance like today there is no reason to not obtain that goal. Can the Detroit Dominators make a playoff run from their current 9-4 position? Sure. Will they? Well, that remains to be seen. I for one will be watching for just that.