Monday, November 5, 2012

Rote Winning

It was about 3:00 PM EST, and I no longer wanted to watch the Lions play. It wasn't because I was disgusted or because they were making the same continual mistakes that I couldn't bear to watch anymore. It was because I was bored. The game had basically come to an end by halftime. When the Lions extended their lead to 24-0 early in the fourth quarter, I laid back on my sofa, able to literally take myself from the edge of my seat for the first time all season. I didn't want to watch the game anymore. And I have never been more happy to be bored out of my mind as the clock winded down, and the Lions lifted themselves to .500.

After the first quarter, fears arose that the Lions were falling back into their same habits: strong defense, mediocre offense and terrible special teams. After dominating in yardage, the Lions had, once again, failed to score in the first quarter. They were tied, despite outplaying the Jaguars at nearly every level. What has followed in the past is one awful play by the defense or special teams, an offense stalling on third down and a Lions team playing from behind despite outgaining their opponent. But that play never came. The special teams blunder failed to emerge. The offense clicked, converting both on third down and in the red zone.

The defense forced three, three-and-outs to start the game, and didn't allow a drive of more than five plays in the first half. The offense steadied themselves to the tune of three second quarter touchdowns. Special teams wasn't too terrible. Game over.

It wasn't the Lions' best, most dominant performance in recent years. But it was exactly the kind of boring, decisive win that both the Lions and Lions fans desperately needed in such terrifyingly unpredictable times. Knowing that the Lions can still go on the road, face a team they should dominate, and take care of business in a boringly rote fashion was infinitely refreshing.

Other stuff:

  • I'm not convinced by the Lions running game yet. Obviously, it would be huge if the Lions can continue to use their backs in the red zone with efficiency like they did against the Jaguars. For a team that has struggled to find Calvin Johnson, or really any other receiver in the red zone, rushing TDs would be the perfect cure. But be realistic. The Jags have allowed the second most rushing touchdowns in the NFL and the Lions running backs only had three rushing touchdowns before this game.
  • While Stafford overall had another solid game, some of the mistakes he continues to make baffles me. His overthrow on third and one that led to a missed field goal is the perfect example. Throws don't get much easier than that and Stafford just missed it. 
  • Speaking of Stafford, what has happened to his ability to ad-lib on plays? Granted he was never amazing at this, but it seems like every time his first and second read break down he goes into happy-feet mode, takes his eyes away from his receivers, and runs himself into a sack. What happened to his check downs? What happened to throwing the ball away? When did he lose his trust in the offensive line?
  • While Leshoure had an effective game, and his cut on his third touchdown of the game gave me a #Leshouregasm, he, and Bell, left a lot of yards on the field. As a ton of people on twitter noted, they are hesitating in the backfield and missing their opportunity to hit the hole.
  • Calvin Johnson at 70% is better than 90% of receivers. Talk of his "regression" are embarrassingly misinformed. Through eight games, he has only 37 yards less than he did in 2011. He's on pace for just 1534 yards this year. Terrible. Madden Curse.
  • Screw you, NHL
  • Next week in Minnesota is probably the biggest game left on the Lions' schedule. The Vikings are the only team ahead of Detroit right now for the second wild card spot, and a loss to the Vikings would put them 2.5 games behind them (including the tiebreaker). A win puts them a half a game ahead with a the tiebreaker likely favoring the Lions. 

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