Three Cups Deep: Lions at Giants

>> 10.18.2010

Drew Stanton, of the Detroit Lions, makes a fool of the New York Giants' Deon Grant

Last night, I mourned the loss of the 2010 season.  I buried my dreams of a surprise playoff run, set the marble marker atop the grave, and shed a single tear for what might have been. 

O for the Lions of twenty ten, fantastic team too early made rest
here Stafford, Pro Bowler, sleeps with top rooks named Suh and Best

They battled foes sixteen strong, besting nine to be wild card
these Lions made their fans proud, this little blue fire bright roar’d

Yet alas, this season met early doom, so fans again must don
their parkas, tend little flame, as winter's wind bloweth on

Yesterday, the Bears and Packers both lost—and the Lions lost their last opportunity to claw back into the division race.  If they’d been able to come away from Your Company Name Here Stadium with a win, they’d be tied with the Vikings at 2-3, one game behind the 3-3 Packers, and two games behind the 4-2 Bears—with nine left to play.  For the sake of our collective sanity, I’ll refrain from mentioning that the NFL stole a win from the Lions and gave it to the Bears, and the Lions would actually be one game behind both the Bears and Packers if they’d completed yesterday’s comeback . . .

. . . but, they didn’t.  They didn’t, and a happy truth we’d been glumly unaware of—that the Lions weren’t really out of it, even at 1-4—has been erased, before we could even enjoy it.  I’m not going to blame Drew Stanton, because he played better could be expected of a third-string quarterback.  I’m not going to blame Brandon Pettigrew, even as the old saw “in the NFL, anything that hits your hands you have to catch” indicts his hands, again.  I’m not going to blame the defense—for though they were gashed by the run in the second half, they kept getting off the field on third down.  I’m not going to blame the refs, either, though the hankies certainly fell like snow from the New Jersey sky.

This team is simply not good enough to beat the Giants, on the road, with an already-iffy LB corps completely depleted.  They’re not good enough to overcome the mistakes, and—before you flip out about the penalties—they’re not good enough to simply not make the mistakes, either.

As I said in the Fireside Chat, some of these penalties—like defensive holding in the secondary—are being made because the Lions can’t beat the other guys clean.  If they’re losing the one-on-one battles, they’re going to commit more penalties to prevent total disaster.  Further, we heard in the offseason that the Lions’ coaching staff was going to accept the occasional offsides or encroachment call from the defensive line in order to get as much jump off the snap as possible.  The pointless after-the-play personal fouls have to stop—but other than that, there’s not a lot that can be done.  This team is what it is, and what it is wasn’t good enough to win  yesterday.

So . . . now what?  Two weeks, then the Lions start up again.  For the second straight year, the Lions will have a healthy Matthew Stafford at the the helm as they host the Redskins—and the leashes will be off.  From here on out, the Lions have nothing to lose—they can bench habitual mistake-makers, they can bomb it down the field, they can call any blitz they want.  Without the absolute, suffocating necessity to play mistake-free football, the Lions can cut loose and have fun.  They can attack without abandon on both sides of the ball, they can play the young guys whenever and wherever they want. . . and who knows?  With that schedule, they just might win a bunch of ballgames in the process.

The 2010 Lions’ season is over, requesicat in pace.  But maybe, just maybe, the 2011 Lions’ season has just begun . . .

4 comments:

Andrew October 18, 2010 at 4:18 PM  

I don't know, I'm looking forward to the second half and anything is possible.

The first half proved we could play with anyone even without our starting QB and depleted linebacking corps.

The second half of the schedule lightens up a bit and we should come out guns blazing with some home games. The second half is going to be exciting. The road losing streak is going to come to an end and hopefully we can payback some division rivals at home. (what I wouldn't give to hang 50 on the Bears, lol)

Isphet,  October 18, 2010 at 7:59 PM  

I don't feel like the season is over yet.

The Lions have 6 of their remaining 10 games at home. All of their road divisional games are done.

Their remaining road games are:

11/14 At Buffalo
11/21 at Dallas

12/19 at Tampa Bay
12/26 at Miami

5 of their next 7 games are at home.

The Lions are 3 games behind Chicago, 2 games behind Green Bay, and 1 game behind Minnesota. That's with road games at GB, Chicago, Minnesota, and New York all out of the way.

And the Lions get their QB back, and the bye week to get a bit healthier.

I'm not saying I like their chances, but it's a bit early to say it's over. They had a brutal first 6 games, and 3 games down against Chicago with 10 to go isn't insurmountable... yet. But it's getting there.

Matt,  October 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM  

"For the sake of our collective sanity, I’ll refrain from mentioning that the NFL stole a win from the Lions and gave it to the Bears, and the Lions would actually be one game behind both the Bears and Packers if they’d completed yesterday’s comeback . . ."

Quick point, if the Lions had rightfully gotten the CHI win AND upset the Giants, they would also be 3-3. This would put them in a 3-way tie for 1st in the NFC North as DET, GB, and CHI would all be 3-3. I think Detroit might technically still be 3rd as GB & CHI would have 1-1 division records while DET would be 1-2. Of course, this is all just in fantasy dream land where the Lions are, in fact, undefeated. :-)

Matt,  October 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM  

Isphet, you're right that the Lions aren't officially mathematically eliminated yet, but it's a very, very long shot. 3 games down with 10 left doesn't sound that bad, but it is pretty rough. First, let's just assume we beat Chicago the second time around and call it a 2 game lead with 9 to play. That means we have to win two games the same weeks Chicago loses. Then, for the other 7 games, we can only lose IF Chicago also loses and MUST win when they win. That's a tall order, especially considering that I didn't mention Green Bay and Minnesota: two pre-season Super Bowl contenders who are in similar-but-slightly-better positions in relation to the Bears than the Lions are.

I hate to say it's over, too, and I'm still looking forward to the rest of the season every bit as much, but, to achieve the dream of a play-off berth in 2010, the Lions almost have to win out. Considering that three of the teams on the remaining schedule have already beaten us (yes, at their stadium, but still) and two more of them are the Jets and Patriots, even coming close to winning out is a tall order.

Can't wait to watch them try, though. We really need this bye week, health-wise, but I wish I could fast forward to Week 8 right now.

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