Today I eat a foul meal, indeed. After looking over the data, seeing a decisive systemic advantage for our Gridiron Heroes, and hearing that Matt Stafford took part in Wednesday practices, I bravely predicted a victory over the Packers. I don’t think I need to describe the agony that Sunday’s results inspired--Neil over at Armchair Linebacker already sauced my crow plate with his own, unfailingly lyrical, take.
Adding insult to injury, I posted yesterday that I'd be Tweeting throughout the game--then either Twitter, or every Twitter client I could get my hands on, went down. I also ran a quick pre-game errand that ended up not being quick at all, and so I listened to most of the first half on the radio.
There's something about following a game on the radio or internet that makes a blowout loss much worse. Without the ability to see what's happening, to understand why, you really feel like the Football Gods are simply smiting you:
Daunte Culpepper drops back to pass . . .Please don't be intercepted please don't be intercepted please don't be intercepted please don't be intercepted please don't be intercepted
. . . and it's picked off! He threw it RIGHT TO Cullen Jenkins!DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!
It’s infuriating. It’s nauseating. It’s even emasculating--like your strength and pride as a fan is being taken from you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
The Packers' emasculation of the Lions was swift and surgical, indeed. Rogers exploited the Lions’ horrific secondary for an opening-drive bomb, Culpepper threw a horrific pick with his first pass attempt, the Pack cashed in, and the game was over with 7:25 left in the first quarter. The numbers will show the Packers didn't play a very good game--13 penalties for 130 yards!—yet, the Lions were absolutely powerless to keep pace.
After the initial salvo, the Lions' D actually stiffened up. The Lions had three offensive possessions in between the second TD and the Packers' next score, a Crosby FG. If they'd turned those three possessions into just 10 points, we are talking about a COMPLETELY different ballgame. Of course, they didn't, and so we are talking about a vicious loss that "feels" even worse than it looked--and it looked bad. On Twitter, I called it the Lions' second "GPS Game" and, well, now we know exactly where the Lions are.
Well . . . we know where they're at without Matt Stafford. Without Calvin Johnson. Without Sammie Hill, DeWayne White, Jason Hunter, or Ko Simpson. Isn't it interesting that already, these players are the difference between competitiveness and 2008-level play? Stafford is already an immediate upgrade over Culpepper; there can be no debate about that now. Megatron we know is Megatron, and White's been solid when healthy, but Sammie Hill? Jason Hunter? Ko Simpson? A fourth rounder from an NAIA school, a street free agent, and a guy who would have been cut if not traded for; they're already major contributors, missed dearly when they're gone. It brings home exactly how bankrupt the Lions' roster was when Mayhew took over.
One phrase I've heard quite frequently this season from Lions fans, bloggers, and reporters: "I know there are no moral victories, but . . . ", with the "but" preceding, you know, why this past loss was a moral victory. There is nothing like that here. This was a brutal, punishing, vicious, demeaning defeat. It stopped the momentum from the Steelers game dead. It sheared the the little green rosebuds off the black and thorny stems of seasons past.
. . . and now, nothing. Bleakness, emptiness; a bye. As snow, probably, begins to fall outside our windows on Sunday, this loss will simmer, stew, marinate. There's nothing to look forward to: no early previews of the upcoming opponent, no breathless injury report updates, not even "so-and-so looked good during jogging today". No, my crow will be slowly braised, for two weeks, in a bitter broth of injuries, ineffectiveness, turnovers, and defeat.
Ugh. After that, there's no way I can suck down a third cup of office sludge. I'm going out for espresso.