Up your game, Meatloaf
After the Lions went three-and-out on their final possession of the first half, my psyche was in an awful place. I was ready to give up on the team. Utterly defeated from one of the worst quarters this team has ever played, I was welcoming the waves of mediocrity to flow over the shell of what used to be my body. My patience was gone, my excitement was gone, and it just wanted it all over. Give me a 6-10 season, a new coach, and let's start gunning for 2014. I was a bad fan.
But then the second half happened. The Lions scored on every drive but one (an unfortunate, fluky interception when the Lions were already in field goal position). The Browns started the half with three three-and-outs, threw an interception, and failed to score a second-half point. The Lions made halftime adjustments and came out the other end the clear superior team. They handled the Browns in their own house and...well, made them look like the Browns.
It was refreshing to see the Lions come out and just absolutely dominate their opponent for a half, but how do we come to terms with that ugly second quarter? A quarter in which the Lions were outgained 198-27 and outscored 17-0. A quarter in which the Lions had more three-and-outs (2) than first downs (1). A quarter that would have been much worse if it weren't for an incredibly athletic interception from DeAndre Levy. Do we just ignore it and pretend it didn't happen because we won? Do we excuse it because the Lions offense was struggling with injuries and no team is perfect? Or do we start panicking and warn our brethren that when the good teams start coming, we can expect more of that?
Well, I wouldn't start panicking, but I'm not at a point where I can just overlook what happened because the Lions are now 4-2 and still in first place in the NFC North. There are some flaws on this team that cannot be ignored. The Lions defensive line is not as good as advertised. The Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the league (currently ranked 29th by yards, 32nd by yard per carry) and they have just 12 sacks on the season (26th). And while we're all excited about Ziggy Ansah's 3 sacks, he goes through long periods of time in between sacks where he's basically invisible (see: entire Browns game).
And the Lions offense continues to go through some familiar hardships. The wide receiver position is terribly thin...again. The running game is inconsistent at best. And balls are getting dropped at the worst possible times.
But, overall, I am going to take this game as a positive. Against a fairly decent Browns defense, the Lions were able to move the ball consistently for three quarters. In fact, all but one non-second quarter drive went for 25 yards or more, and they only punted twice. And remember how we were all upset that Matthew Stafford wasn't making his receivers better, a la Tom Brady? Well, he sent fantasy football owners scrambling to snatch Kris Durham and Joseph Fauria from waivers on Sunday. And while the defense gave up a concerning amount of yards to a weak Browns offense, they also continued to make big plays at the impressive hands of DeAndre Levy. Levy probably just had his best game of his career, which is on top of an already spectacular year for the guy.
This is the NFL, and you take wins however you get them. In the end, the Lions got a road victory over a team with a winning record, and manhandled them for three quarters. While there are flaws in this team that are obvious and worrisome, there are just as many playmakers in Detroit who can pull the team out of an awful quarter. That's good enough for me.