In the Watchtower for this game, I followed up fifteen hundred words, or thereabouts, of doom and gloom, with the following:
Every single piece of data I have, both objective and subjective, points to a Cardinals blowout. However, there has not been a more “off” and “on” team over the past two seasons than the Cardinals. The one thing they haven’t done in this Warner/Fitz/Boldin/Whisenhunt era is meet expectations—they beat teams they shouldn’t beat and look amazing doing it, and they lose to teams they have no business losing to, and look horrible doing it.Amazingly, though Culpepper and Fitzgerald both started yesterday, my “instincts” proved accurate. As tough as it was to watch the offense founder and struggle to move the ball, let alone score points, we did get to see exactly what I was watching for: heart, effort, moxie, stick-to-it-itiveness, whatever you want to call it. The Lions did not roll over and die at the coin toss, nor did they roll over and die when they went into halftime down 17-0.
Further, I can’t imagine that a Jim Schwartz team comes back for a home game after a bad performance and rolls over from the opening gun--if so, it should raise some serious red flags. My instincts tell me this will be more like a 35-21 loss—but if Culpepper plays, and Fitz and Boldin don’t take the game off, I don’t see how the Lions keep it that close.
I’m not going to beat the Culpepper/Stanton thing to death. I’ve made my position on the issue clear: Stanton may, or may not, be any better than Culpepper right now, but Culpepper has no future here, or anywhere else. Stanton's future, at least, is still undetermined—and if this season ends without giving him one week as a starter, it’ll be a crime.
While Stanton certainly didn’t play the position of quarterback any better than Culpepper, it’s undeniable that the team performed better while Stanton was at the helm. Coincidence? Perhaps. But when Culpepper’s been outscored like 91-3 in his last three starts, you take any coincidence you get.
What blew me away yesterday was the play of the defensive line. It looked as though The Real Cliff Avril finally got his uniform back yesterday—and Grady Jackson played like the he-beast he is. On multiple occasions, the Lions’ defensive line won multiple one-on-one battles at the same time; on other teams, this isn’t cause for celebration—but for the Lions? Pop the bubbly.
The kick coverage units did a reasonable job as well; Zack Follett gave the Cardinals a big ol’ dose of the Pain Train yesterday (Mrs. Ty nearly filed divorce papers after I stood up and “WOO WOO"’d in the middle of the bar). Of course, they also gave up a huge return at the end of the 4th, that handed the game to the Cards—but at least they waited that long!
The offensive line played with some grit . . . but committed a plethora of false starts, including a drive-killing consecutive pair in the 2nd quarter. Gosder Cherilus is showing a positively Culpepperian knack for making just a few mistakes—but really, really stupid ones at the worst possible times.
Overall, we’re left with a familiar feeling: the “moral victory”. The “good loss”. The “at least it was, or wasn’t . . .” Is there anything left to say? Is there anything left to do? Yes. It’s time to make the coffee . . .