Lack of communication. Is that really the reason why the Detroit Lions are now 1-2 on the 2012 season? Not being on the same page? No, there are many other reasons why the Lions dropped their second consecutive game of the season. No pressure on Titans passer Jake Locker, giving up 44 points to the lowly Titans defense, or maybe having to come back AGAIN from being down in the first half. There are many different reasons and excuses but the result is still the same: a disappointing loss.
Things weren’t good from the start. Punter Ben Graham went down early and 42 year old Jason Hanson had to come on as the emergency punter and actually did a great job as the special teams extraordinaire. But even with a 3/3 half from Hanson, the Lions squandered red zone opportunities and couldn’t put any pressure on Titans quarterback Jake Locker. In return, Locker responded with successful drives against Detroit and the Lions entered halftime trailing 17-9.
Based on the play of the Lions after the first half, it would appear that Lions coach Jim Schwartz channeled his inner Knute Rockne because the Lions played spirited football and took a 27-19 lead over the Titans in the third. But Tennessee would come back with drives of its own and take a 34-27 lead in the fourth quarter. Things would begin to look horrifying for Lions fans as Tennessee would strip the ball from tight end Brandon Pettigrew and return it for a touchdown. In the process, Lions quarterback would have to leave the game after straining his leg on the play. Down 41-27 with 1:16 to play, the game was over without a doubt. After getting ball on the kickoff, backup quarterback Shaun Hill would lead a drive for the Lions that cut the lead to 41-34. On the kickoff, the Lions executed a much disputed onside kick that was ruled in Detroit’s favor after an officiating gaffe. On the last play of the game, Hill threw a Hail Mary desperation pass that was tipped and caught by Lions receiver Titus Young for yet another touchdown. Hanson added the extra point with no time on the clock and the Lions had new life after trailing by two touchdowns within the two minute warning.
However, things didn’t quite work out in Detroit’s favor in overtime. Despite having momentum and being very spirited, the Titans won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball first. Under the NFL’s new overtime rules, the if the Titans scored first, Detroit had one possession to match or better whatever points were scored. The Titans offense wore down the Lions defense the entire game and overtime was no different. the Lions defense came up huge in the red zone and the Titans were forced to send kicker Rob Bironas to give them a 44-41 lead. However, the replacement referees, in their infinite wisdom, marked the Titans from the Detroit 44 yard line instead of the Tennessee 44 yard line.
A Detroit touchdown would’ve ended the game in the Lions’ favor. However, with backup Shaun Hill, it was going to be tough. Things looked positive until a fourth down and short from the Titans 8 yard line. Enter the miscommunication.
Instead of kicking a field goal, Jim Schwartz appeared to elect to go for it. However, confusion up front and a poorly executed hard count, resulted in a premature snap by center Dominic Raiola. Hill wasn’t ready for the ball and just tried to sneak it across but came up short and the Lions would lose the craziest, back-and-forth game in the NFL so far.
To successfully complete BOTH an onside kick and a Hail Mary in the final minute of play is remarkable. But for that same team to not emerge the victor is even more remarkable. However, with the Lions welcoming the Minnesota Vikings to Ford Field next weekend, let’s hope there’s not any too remarkable about next week (besides a Lions win). As for my Week 4 prediction, here it goes.
WEEK 4 PREDICTION:
DETROIT LIONS: 31
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: 17
It might seem like a foolish pick for the Lions to win by as much as two touchdowns. But I’m banking on Schwartz stressing the idea of “finishing” the game for his locker room speech. Either way, I’m predicting Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the defense to pursue Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder for the duration of the game. Time off this week will do Matthew Stafford’s leg a lot of good and he will return to form and get a big game out of, not only, Calvin Johnson but also Titus Young. I’ve been looking for Young to break out soon and I think he will against the Viking’s suspect secondary.
Detroit has to get back to its offensive-pass-first roots. Mikel Leshoure looked good in his NFL debut and he should be another weapon out of the backfield. Schwartz has the weapons to put on a show next Sunday. Let’s just hope its not the show from yesterday that could have been under a tent.