Another Thanksgiving Lions game and another heartbreaking loss in what’s become a disastrous 2012 season. Detroit was also stunned as they lost a game they controlled most of the day. This all eventually came to a crashing end as Shayne Graham won it for the Texans in OT 34-31 completing the Motor City Meltdown seemingly stemming from a bad call earlier in the game (which I’ll get to here soon).
The Lions started out well scoring on the first possession of the game as Detroit made it very apparent they were here to play. After trading touchdowns the Lions ended up taking a 10 point lead into halftime 24-14.
Then with 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter it happened…
Houston Texans backup running back Justin Forsett broke off an 81-yard TD run… well kind of. During the early sequence of the play Lions Safety Louis Delmas met Forsett 7 yards passed the line of scrimmage and tackled him (Forsett’s elbow and knee touch the ground) but no whistle is blown. From there Forsett gets up and runs into the end zone. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz being so upset throws the challenge flag before the Refs even signaled touchdown. Unbeknownst to many this was a big no-no as it resulted in a penalty and the scoring play not being reviewed. The irony here is it would have been over turned if Schwartz showed some composure, but as Schwartz said himself “I was so mad I had the flag out of my pocket before he was in the end zone”. This is obviously on the Lions’ head coach. You need to know the rules as a coach and let cooler heads prevail. You are not a coordinator anymore where emotion can fire up your troops. A leader of men cannot make an irrational decisions that ends up costing your team touchdowns. And to add insult to injury when you take a closer look, Houston is a team that played 10 quarters of football inside 4 days and did not practice in pads all week. The Texans were a team on the ropes and Detroit failed to knock them out. I know and agree the referee’s missed calls hurt and helped add to the eventual loss. Fans however need to look at both sides though. And the simple idea is the calls alone aren’t the reasons Detroit lost. Even despite the Forsett controversial touchdown the Lions still had a 24-21 but were clearly rattled on their next offensive possession. Stafford over threw a receiver, Calvin Johnson dropped a ball in the numbers and J.J. Watt blocked the next pass. From there Detroit failed to take the game back over.
Time and Time again when Houston needed a play they went back to their play maker Andre Johnson who the Lions had no answer for in the screen game. Arian Foster chipped away on the yardage resulting in a very complete team that never strayed away from their game plan.
So to think the Ref’s won or lost the game Lions fan’s is just not true.
Here’s a rundown of things the Lions didn’t execute on or simply got away with:
- Suh could have been flagged for kicking Schuab in the groin. Suh again could have been flagged for horse collar plays on the the Texans QB as many times the pockets were in question.
- Stafford was 31-61 in the passing game which isn’t impressive. But why throw the ball 61 times? Well here’s your answer; twice Stafford threw the football and Megatron ran the wrong route. The ball was put into open space and Johnson just wasn’t there. Pettigrew had 3 drops and the Texans deflected 13 passes, 6 of which came from the defensive line. (I’ll break this down later)
- Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal (24-33) in OT. Mind you this is a guy that kicked in a dome for 20 years.
- Schwartz allowed his emotions to get the best of him.
- Here’s my favorite, how about Delmas wraps up a guy instead of always throwing a shoulder to try to blow up his opponents?
- Stafford started the game 7-16 and at one point was 7-19. He again started wild.
- Drafting! The Defense gave up 34 points, but like I’ve said before what has Gunther Cunningham been given? Suh in Schwartz’s second draft and the team took a chance on Fairley two seasons ago. Those are the only top picks in four drafts given to him. Meanwhile Mikel Leshoure was taken to cover the Best pick while Broyles was drafted to cover the Titus Young pick. Furthermore Brandon Pettigrew, Derek Williams, Riley Reiff and Matthew Stafford are all picks going to the offense while the defense gets team cast offs like Drayton Florence and Chris Houston.
- Regression. I can’t name you one player that was a starter last year, having a better year this year. Fairley is about it, yet he barely played last season.
- Wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson. At one time Jefferson was a pretty good wide out catching 50 balls a year (give or take) and being a pretty important aspect in San Diego and Atlanta. Yet how does he get away with letting the Lions receivers consistently drop balls? As it stands right now Detroit leads the NFL in drops.
This season has been exhausting. The Lions have many questions now to get answered with half of the Defensive starters being free agents in which decision will need to be made on who exactly they want back. Meanwhile Pettigrew is a drive killer who can’t hang on to the football. And what about Titus Young, is he worth it?
Going forward, it was an exciting football game, considering this was the first Thanksgiving day game that was down to the wire in almost a decade. And as long as the Lions have Stafford and Johnson they are a threat to at least put up points.
h/t: Yahoo! Sports (image)