Three Cups Deep: Lions vs. Jets

>> 11.08.2010

“Where ya goin’?” he asked.  I was at the top of the staircase leading down to sections 104 and 105, my just-having-used-the-potty son in my arms, fighting against the four-wide stream of Lions fans heading for the exits.  “C’mon,” the Jets fan sneered while clapping, sarcastically.  “You were all loud a minute ago, where ya goin’?  It’s like this?  You abandon your team now?  After all that?  C’mon!  Where ya goin’?”

The Jets had just completed a 52-yard pass to Santonio Holmes, and the Jets were setting up camp in field goal range.  This Ford Field crowd, who’d sold the place out, who’d rocked and rolled all afternoon, who’d made all kinds of noise all afternoon, had just had their hearts ripped out.  I wanted to say something, wanted to shut him up, wanted to make it not true . . . but I had nothing.  It was clearly over now.  After being the better team all game long, after being so close to such an amazing achievement, after having my boy’s first Lions game be the greatest victory in a decade, it was all gone, and soon the Jets would kick a field goal and it would all fizzle into nothingness.  It was infuriating and heartbreaking and I wanted to alternately punch this guy in the mouth and then maybe cry.

Someone tried to crack back.  “Yeah . . . you look like a New York fan.  You look like a New York fan.”  I don’t know what that means, and my guess is neither did this guy, either—further, he was shuffling past me to the exit while Jet Fan was standing on top of a seat, holding court.  If those words were meant to shut Jet Fan up, they didn’t work.

In that dark, sickening moment, I was crushed.  I was disgusted at the Lions fans heading for the exit, I was heartbroken that everything that that day might have been turned to sand in my hands, and I was exhausted, drained, completely spent emotionally and physically.  I had absolutely nothing left.

Before the game, it was nothing but sunshine.  Lions fans, Lions gear, and a crisp, gorgeous day boded well for my boy’s first Lions game.  Street musicians, music coming out of the nearby bars and restaurants, people buying and selling tickets, jerseys of all colors, sizes, shapes, and names on proud display.  Some of these were just too good to be true:

We took our seats.  The scale, the noise, the pageantry . . . all of it looked newer, bigger, fresher to me, as if I was seeing it through his eyes.  Even the coin toss was epic and legendary, as far as he was concerned.

I’m not going to recount the entire game.  It’s been done—and done and done and done.  I covered most of my in-game thoughts last night during the Fireside Chat.  But here’s what I’m taking away from this game: pride.  Pride in the fans that showed up and roared for sixty-plus minutes.  Pride in the team that faced off against the toughest, most physical, most swaggerest team in the NFL, and “bloodied” them.  “Knocked them down.”  Forced them to admit that they “weren’t the same old Lions.”  Even had their leader whining about how the Lions are the “dirtiest team in the league.”  As I said last night, for today, I’ll take that.

The outcome may have been crushing.  The score, the mistakes, the injuries, they may take the wind out of our sails, as fans.  It might even take the wind out of the Lions’ sails.  But yesterday the Lions took on the best, and hit them in the mouth.  They made them taste their own medicine—made them taste their own blood in the back of their throat.  Both teams walked away knowing the Lions outplayed the Jets.

I know there are no moral victories, and almost only counts in horseshoes, and if you ain’t first, you’re last, and all that crap.  But yesterday the Lions played like men, played like a tough, talented team that knows they’re tough and talented.  The transformation from 2008 to now is nothing less than astonishing, and if you’re too blind to see that, that’s a you problem.  As much as it hurts, as amazing as it could have been but wasn’t, it’s still a landmark moment in this franchise’s development and—let’s admit it—it was a hell of a football game.

I’m proud of my boy—who fought through his disappointment to tell visiting Jets fans “good game”—and I’m proud of this team.  I’m proud to wear my gear and be a fan.  I’m proud that a game that would have been a 35-7 shellacking a season and a half ago was yesterday, to borrow Rex Ryan’s analogy, a twelve-round prizefight.

I'm proud--and you should be, too.

Technorati Tags: nfl,detroit lions,new york jets,rex ryan,jim schwartz,ford field


A Lion in ViQueen Territory,  November 8, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

thanks man. I needed to read that.

MrMomWorld,  November 8, 2010 at 6:34 PM  

I also needed to read this. After the emotional roller coaster ride during Saturday's #Michigan game culminating in one of the biggest highs a Michigan fan has had in almost 3 years, Sunday's roller coaster ride left me decimated.

After the game, and all day today, my focus has been on the stupid penalties, poor decisions, poor clock management, injuries and an incomplete pass.

I feel better now. We are a much better team than we have been in years - decades? I suspect there will be many more teams coming out of a Detroit game feeling like they just went 12 rounds. But how about an early round KO? My blood pressure would appreciate it…

Anonymous,  November 8, 2010 at 6:44 PM  

Wow. What Lion was in charge of bringing the snack and Carpi Sun? This team choked pure and simple and they are still after a season and half still in the bottom 5 teams in the league. Don't give me the Millen argument or that. The Rams,Browns,Chiefs,Seahawks and Skins all have more wins than the Lions and they all drafted in the same ballpark in the 2010 draft.

Deryl,  November 8, 2010 at 9:47 PM  

At some point when the Lions were up 20-10 I told my wife "I'm a Lions fan. I'm suppose to know that we'll find a way to lose this game, but I don't. I know we're going to win because this isn't the old Lions."

I certainly was wrong about the win, but even after watching the Jets make a great comeback I somehow hadn't lost that feeling. This team is not the same old Lions. Sometimes good teams come back and win games.

The Lions have scored more points than they have allowed. When was the last time that was true? They're tied for 7th in SRS at PFR. FO hasn't been updated yet, but last week they were 19th and I'm willing to bet the move up this week.

Go Lions!

MrMomWorld,  November 9, 2010 at 5:35 AM  

Once upon a time, some Lions fans posted anonymously for fear that their friends and neighbors would find out. The Lions must be doing something right if it's the Lions haters that are now posting anonymously. I guess that's so they can still climb on the bandwagon when the transformation culminates into a trip into the postseason.

Been There,  November 9, 2010 at 10:13 AM  

You are spot-on Anonymous, but wasting your breath here. MrMomWorld is the classic eyes-wide-shut Lions fan: "the stupid penalties,poor decisions, poor clock management...,we're much better than we used to be"! ???

NorthLeft12,  November 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM  

Let's see, we go toe to toe with the consensus pick to win the Super Bowl and lose in overtime after losing our starting QB and # 1 Corner.

How about some credit to the Jets folks? They raised their intensity to ELEVEN in the last six minutes. They stopped the Lions from making plays and they made plays. That is what I want to see the Lions do. That is what a playoff calibre team does. It's not only about what the Lions are doing.

Matt,  November 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

The pessimists never cease to amaze me (I could say the same of the optimists). If MrMomWorld is "eyes-wide-shut" then Anonymous is deaf, dumb, and blind. First of all, "don't give me the Millen argument"?! You can't just dismiss it's validity. Less than two seasons ago the Lions were the worst team in the history of professional football. Schwartz, Lewand, Mayhew, etc. took over the biggest rebuilding project in history. And you expect, nay, REQUIRE them to be contenders just a season and a half later? That's ridiculous. Yes, quick turnarounds are more possible in today's NFL than at any other point, but you can't let the fact that it hasn't happened yet blind you to the real improvements that HAVE been made. Yes, the Lions roster still needs work and, yes, they are still making some dumb, same-ol-Lions mistakes, but expecting a quick fix is setting the bar too high. I think Ty is absolutely right that this would have been a 35-7 blowout last season; the fact that we were even in it shows something positive. There are still problems and holes, but you can't deny that this is a team on the rise. And who knows what this season could have been if our QBs could actually stay healthy (I'll rant on this elsewhere :)?

Ty,  November 9, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

ALiVQT, MrMomWorld--

Thanks, fellas. I needed to write it!


Alvin,  November 10, 2010 at 4:25 PM  

I was depressed after this one, but you're right Ty, this is a different team and they beat the crap outta the Jets. Now take a good angle Delmas and Jpete, it's time to retire.

Alvin,  November 10, 2010 at 4:26 PM  

Forgot to tell you thanks for the article, it was awesome.

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