What a miserable weekend for Detroit sports. The Wolverines lost, of course. And so did the Pistons. Even the Red Wings lost to Chicago again. Dropping a game they led going into the third. But it's the Lions loss that has me most disappointed. Despite myself, I've become cautiously optimistic about their season. Believing they just might make it to being blown-out in the playoffs for once. Which would, of course, be a welcome change from being spanked in the regular season. One day, dare I dream, they might even make it to being the roadbump in the Super Bowl.
I didn't manage to see much of the game since I was visiting with relatives - it's that time of the year and thanks to divorces and feuds the holiday festivities are spread over several days this year. I caught a bit of it on the radio as I turned it on to listen during the drive. I found something else to listen to pretty quickly. It sounded like an ugly game and going over the box score today only confirms that I was wise not to subject myself to it for very long.
At least the Lions got into double digits with their rushing attempts this game. They've been extremely and inexplicably pass wacky lately. And aside from Martz-bashing (The knock being that he works too hard to convince everyone that he is as smart as everyone says he is and he'd be much better off not being so clever and just trying to be effective... Anyone else's ears burning?) the only reason I can come up with is that Jones is more hurt than they're letting on. I just don't get it. But with only 11 rushes for the entire game - a mere 7 after 4 in the opening drive - something's clearly wrong.
Rushing helps not only the passing game but the attitude of the offensive line. You challenge those slobberknockers to go out there and get you a yard or three the dirty way and they're going to be playing with a big old grin on their faces. You tell them it's pass first, pass last, and pass often and they're going to think the coaches lack confidence in them. In their ability to get the yards they need. And then they play the entire game back on their heels. Just like what happened yesterday.
The sad thing, though, is that the Lions had a chance to win this game. Kitna was wrong to say the Giants were the worse team but he did have a point. That game was well within reach. Even as horribly as they played, if the supposedly vaunted offense had managed to put just one more touchdown on the board then they'd have won. And that would have put them at 7-3 on the season and in a commanding position with regards to the wildcard. Gree Bay looks to be running way with the division so if they Lions hope to make the playoffs they'll have to earn one of the two wildcard spots. If the season ended today, they'd have the last one. The team with the first one? The Giants. And now, by virtue of their win, the Giants are two games ahead of the Lions for that spot - Detroit has to win one more game than New York in order to move ahead of them. Worse, all the team sitting behind the Lions at 5-5 also hold the edge in tiebreakers. That's right, it's Philly, Arizona, and Washington - the three other teams the Lions have lost to - nipping at their heels for that final playoff spot.
Really, really bad loss just when they needed to win. It's like the team I grew up with is back! Still, the season isn't lost yet and, at this point, it's just amazing how successful they've been. A win against Green Bay at Ford Field this Thanksgiving and things will start to look bright again. After the past two games, though, I'm not exactly counting on it.
Still, it's going to be weird. For the first time in a long time, the Lions are playing games that matter. The Thanksgiving game is going to be more than just background noise in the middle of our feast.