I usually write Three Cups Deep on Monday morning, while I draw strength from the taste, smell, and heat of my morning coffee. I usually record the Fireside Chat podcast on Sunday night, with a live audience listening in via Ustream. However, I’m fighting a nasty head cold; I can guarantee you don’t want my voice piped into your ears right now! So, I’m writing this while sipping late-night tea, instead of early-morning coffee.
Today (Sunday) was my daughter’s sixth birthday; there’s a lifetime worth of blog posts about what that means to me. But six years ago, to the day, in Week 2 of the 2004 season, at halftime of a Lions victory, my daughter was born. Between that mojo, and the amazing vibe of the incredible Michigan State victory the night before, I held on to a crazy belief that victory was not only possible, but cosmically preordained. It would be so great, be so beautiful, make so much sense—of course it would have to happen. It would make no sense to not happen?
It’s the kind of crazy thinking a fan does—but when the Lions went up 17-7, I really began to believe. I got the hope, the tingle; the all-over buzz and swimmy insides. Even when the Eagles got the lead back right before halftime, I still figured it was within reach. But then it started slipping away; when the Eagles made it 35-17, I turned my attention to preparations for my daughter’s birthday party. The improbable, magical victory I’d felt in my bones had turned into the same old miserable story I’d seen played out over and over and over again for the last decade.
Then, for the second time in two games, this Lions team ripped up that God-forsaken script. The Eagles, thinking they’d had the game won, let up a little bit—and the Lions pounced, scoring twice in two minutes. With a successful onside kick, they started what might have been a third scoring drive, possibly the game-winning scoring drive. But, as you know, that drive never drove; a four-and-out set up the most aggravating ending since The Rules of Attraction.
I was an confounding mix of pleased and pissed, surprised and not at all, satisfied and aching for just a little more. In a game that everyone marked an “L” the moment the schedule was released, coming away with a three-point loss feels like an achievement. And yet, losing the home opener when the Lions had a 17-7 lead in the second quarter feels like a disaster. As Killer wrote on Mlive.com, that’s exactly how Kyle Vanden Bosch feels:
"We could've put them away early. When we get in the lead and have the momentum, we've got to finish. We have to keep our foot on the throttle. And then, in the end, we have to find a way to win it."
While I was simmering in this sweet and sour sauce, my wife put it into perspective for me. She said, “You can tell it’s working. This isn’t the same team that lost sixteen games; it’s not even the same team that lost fourteen games. You can see it: this team is different.” Of course, she’s right. It’s hard to be satisfied with another moral victory when a real one was so achingly close for the second week in a row. But with all the obstacles facing the Lions—no Matthew Stafford, no DeAndre Levy, a hampered Louis Delmas—they’re still clearly a competitive team, a real team. The Lions are a team that can’t be written off by any opponent at any time, and that is satisfying indeed.