Monday, December 12, 2011

Surviving A Knife Fight

The final drive of the game was painfully slow. Though only three minutes and 32 seconds on paper, as the Vikings drove the ball down the field, it felt like eons had passed. Ty at Lions and Winter described it as watching the season pass before his eyes. Neil at Armchair Linebacker likened it to surviving a car crash. To me, it was an agonizing 3:32 of repetitive stabbing.

I had the feeling we'd be in for a knife fight the minute the Lions settled for a field goal early in the fourth quarter to make the game 34-21. The very next play was a 47-yard kick return. Oh no. It only took four minutes for the Vikings to gain the remaining 60 yards and make it a one-score game. My flesh had been scratched.

The Lions took over with the potential of putting the game away, but it didn't take long before I feared the Vikings would land another vicious blow. Two plays into the drive the Lions were faced with a crucial third and five. But behind my cowering self, Matthew Stafford shot a cannon into the arms of Nate Burleson and through the hearts of Vikings fans. I could rest easy, at least for a few minutes. Until...

Two plays later, I was back in the fetal position, as the Lions faced another third down. This time, both Stafford and Titus Young made enormous efforts to land a finishing blow, but had miscalculated and missed it by a yard. Like a turn-based RPG, the Lions had selected their plays, attacked the opponent, but failed to end the game. Now it was the Vikings' turn.

The first couple moves by the Vikings are fairly harmless; an eight yard pass down the middle and a four yard scramble. Merely flesh wounds. The next two plays: "Joe Webb's Passing Attack Was Ineffective."
Visual Approximation of Joe Webb VS Lions Defense in My Head
Third down, Vikings completed a pass for what should have been six yards, but turned into nine yards. HEY, WATCH IT, VIKINGS! THAT ONE MIGHT NEED STITCHES! Fourth down, Gehart lands a body blow, easily picking up the first down, despite Sammie Lee Hill's best effort to block the attack in the backfield. Next four plays: pass for 0 yards, pass for 17 yards, incomplete pass, eight yard pass: block, body blow, block, body blow. 

A couple plays later, the Vikings are suddenly first and ten at the Lions 16 with 32 seconds left. I felt woozy. What seemed like a minor fist-a-cuffs with the Vikings was beginning to turn into a beatdown. I felt my innards bleeding, my cheeriness and energy meters were fading fast; I wasn't going to last much longer.

But, once again, the Lions had my cowardly back. In just three plays, the Lions had the Vikings on the ropes facing another fourth down. "Okay. Whatever you do, don't let Joe Webb..."

*Webb uses scramble attack. It is extremely effective.*

I collapsed to the floor. I felt liquid pour from my face. I wasn't sure if it's sweat, blood, tears, or some sad cocktail of the three. The Vikings slowly removed the sword from my abdomen, giving it the slightest twist on its way out. As I looked up in disbelief, I saw the deformed face of Jared Allen mocking my stupid existence.

It was over. I had accepted our fate. The Lions tried to out-maneuver the Vikings for as long as possible, but they were out of turns. As the Vikings cockily strutted to the line to stick the final dagger in my heart, I closed my eyes and planned my final words of the 2011 season. Should I curse out Allen? Who could be my scapegoat? Who really expected a full turnaround this season, anyway? Wait, I bet there's still a way we make the playoff, right? I let these terrible thoughts run through my head for awhile. I took a deep breath, and just decided to take it like a man: silently. I lifted my head, eyes still closed, ready to accept my fate. As I slowly opened my eyes, I awaited the final, painful stabbing. But the stabbing never came. It turns out DeAndre Levy had used a cheat-code and the Lions were left with one last attack: "Strip-Sack-Facemask-Twist, I choose you!" Levy shrieked. And that was it.

I blinked. Blinked to make the obvious hallucination I had just witnessed disappear. It didn't. I waited. Waited for the FOX graphic of death, known only as "FLAG" to appear on the screen and pierce my soul with it's burning-yellow tint. It didn't. I looked down at myself, expecting my entrails to be flowing out of me like an crimson, organ river. They weren't.

The Lions and I had just survived a knife fight. It was ugly, it was tormenting, and it probably took a couple years off of all of our lives, but we were the ones left standing. And now we (yes, "we") are 8-5 and closer to a playoff spot than we've been in a decade.

I think I'm going to be alright.

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