Monday, September 30, 2013

The Best Eight Minutes in Football

I haven't had much of a chance to mull over the Detroit Lions' victory of the Chicago Bears on Sunday. After stressing over the somewhat frightening near-comeback in the fourth quarter and spending the rest of my evening trying to digest the Breaking Bad finale, I've lost sight of how much fun the first three quarters of that game was. I had to go back and re-watch a condensed version of the game just to remember what exactly had happened.

The first quarter of this game was not much fun. The Lions drove deep into Chicago three times, and came out with nine points. The defense gave up a 30-yard pass on the first drive, and a 53-yard rush on their third drive.

But, of all things, it was a special teams play that kick-started one of the most entertaining eight minutes of football I've ever watched this team play.

After receiving a line-drive punt, Michael Spurlock side-stepped one of the gunners, and the rest was history. The Lions started that drive on the Chicago 22-yard line. 3 plays later, they were on the goal line.

Then the Lions hit a crucial fork in the road. In a much crueler universe (one that we've experienced more than our fair share of times), Matthew Stafford would have been punished for his reckless goal line reach of the ball. But the Football Gods were merciful for an afternoon, and the ball landed right back in his arms.

The next play from scrimmage: Glover Quin takes a beautifully-read interception down to the Bears' 2-yard line. The next play: touchdown.

Two touchdowns in nearly 20 seconds. But the Lions weren't done there. The defense forced a three-and-out, including two plays for negative yards.

After another poor Chicago punt, the Lions had just 51 yards to go to score their third consecutive touchdown. It took all but two plays. After another wink from the Football Gods (in the form of a Calvin Johnson fumble recovery), Reggie Bush made amends on the next play by scoring the Lions' most impressive rushing touchdown since Jahvid Best's 88-yard scamper against the same Chicago Bears on a Monday night two years ago. Three touchdowns in just over three minutes.

And the Lions still weren't done. In a typical game, you'd see the Bears go down and maybe get a field goal on the next drive before the half. But the defense forced another three-and-out, led by a monster Ndmaukong Suh sack. Side note: let's face facts, Suh is the front runner for defensive player of the year right now. Status level: unstoppable.

Anyway, the Lions wasted no time in using their good field position (again) in trying to build on their 20-point lead. Unfortunately, after driving another 30-yards with ease, the Football Gods decided the Bears had had enough, and granted them one measly field goal after a Julius Peppers strip-sack.

Still, the Lions had turned 10-9 deficit with 8:30 left to go in the half into a 30-13 halftime lead. That was pretty impressive and insanely fun.

Quick Notes:

It might sound weird to say in a game whose final score was 40-32, but the Lions defense really deserves most of the credit for the win. They had three sacks, four turnovers, five three-and-outs...and six points. They gave the offense good field position all day. The defense still gave up too many big plays, but they created enough big plays on Sunday to a point where it didn't matter.

The offense was a little disappointing considering how well the running game was working. Stafford was off, and the red zone offense continues to struggle (5 opportunities: 2 touchdowns, 2 field goals, 1 turnover).

Hey, just three penalties for 25 yards!

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