Well, it truly wouldn't be a holiday in Michigan without watching the Detroit Lions find a creative way to melt down on Thanksgiving, would it? Stealing victory from the jaws of defeat (again and again) the Lions botched their Thanksgiving hunt over and over Thursday afternoon, and imploded on several occasions. Yes, there were terrible calls by Walt Coleman and crew. That doesn't change the fact that Jason Hanson still had the game on his toe and missed.
Thanks to that play, the Lions were carved up like turkey, then stuffed for the world to see. It wasn't a pretty end to a fantastic holiday, but there's still much to talk about following this latest performance. One thing's for certain; the Lions sure do keep things interesting lately.
Again, Simple Coaching Mistakes Cost Detroit A Win. This time it was Jim Schwartz, emotionally throwing a challenge flag on a play he admittedly knew wasn't able to be challenged. Say what you want about the validity of coach challenge rules (and believe me, I will) but Schwartz needs to reign in his emotions and take some deep breaths. We've seen him be emotional at the end of games, but when you lose your head and raw emotion starts costing your team victories, you know you've got a problem. Also, Schwartz and his staff should have at least attempted to get Jason Hanson more yardage for his overtime field goal on third down with one more play call. It wasn't a good day all around for Lions' coaches.
Some Loony NFL Rules Really Need An Overhaul. Now. Since it's on everybody's mind, we'll chat about the big rule violation. Think of one good reason a coach should not be allowed to challenge a scoring play or a turnover. Plenty of fans probably didn't even know this rule existed, much like Calvin Johnson's much ballyhooed "completing the catch" rule. That's impractical and comical for a league which already strives to fix human error whenever possible. Schwartz is forced to fall on his sword, when really, the problem is the technicality of the NFL rule book yet again. They should probably add this rule to the pile of ones that need to be amended quickly. How many more times will this have to happen?
Who Is Titus Young, Again?. Mike Thomas filled in more than admirably in Young's place and Ryan Broyles also made some fantastic catches. Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew (when he could hold on to the ball) were excellent as well. All in all, Young wasn't missed today, as the Lions' passing offense carved up the Texans through the air. If he wants to buy in and put in the needed work to play in the NFL, he'll find a way to work back into the fold. If not, Young can always be replaced, and that was obvious.
The Biggest Play Of The Game? Matthew Stafford Taking Two Late Sacks. Though Stafford had a good day through the air, he made a few mistakes when it counted most. Both his late sacks came at the fringe of field goal range on third down, and if the Lions were able to put a field goal through, it would have turned things into a two possession game. Instead, Detroit had to punt the ball and Houston had life. If Stafford throws the ball away, if Scott Linehan calls a running play, perhaps the Lions are able to win. It didn't happen, and both plays were a late turning point aiding in Detroit's demise.
Pettigrew Should Be Next To Hit The Bench. Twice late in the game, Pettigrew blew the opportunity to make huge catches, dropping away a sure first down late in the fourth quarter which may have set up a game winning field goal and fumbling in overtime. Like they did with Young, it's time for the Lions to make a statement with Pettigrew and let him have a seat for Will Heller until he proves he can catch. There's no reason to reward Thursday's horrid play on field.
Walt Coleman's Worst Blown Call Came On A Punt Return. I believe the turning point Thursday did not come on Houston's absurd touchdown run from Justin Forcett. Instead, the play happened a short time before on a punt that clearly touched a Texan player and went into the arms of Kassim Osgood. Instead of properly ruling the ball in Detroit's favor, Coleman mysteriously kept the ball with Houston for no logical reason. The Lions would have been on Houston's 40 yard line knocking on the door for another early touchdown, but instead, they were turned back by the referees. That play started the emotional swing of the game in the improper direction from Detroit, and indirectly led to Schwartz's later challenge meltdown.
Lions? Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Mikel Leshoure, Thomas, and Scheffler all played well. The Lions defense did too at times, best led by Chris Houston.
Turkeys'? Pettigrew stands out as the biggest turkey. He had the game in his hands twice and simply dropped the ball. With the missed field goal, we'll think outside the box instead of simply trashing Hanson. Quietly, Don Mulbach (who? the long-snapper, that's who) botched the snap in overtime, perhaps causing Hanson to slip his field goal wide right. We'll also give an award to Coleman and his crew, who were terrible all afternoon long.
What About The Five Things? Before the holiday game, we said it would be important to watch the offensive line without Jeff Backus. The group did alright in spite of J.J. Watt's big day, and Riley Reiff held up. Titus Young's absence wasn't felt, Detroit's defensive line did a nice job early, but wilted late in the game. The Lions didn't slow Arian Foster one bit, and unfortunately, there was no hero this Thanksgiving. Maybe next year.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions stay at home and welcome Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday, December 2. The Game will be at 1 p.m. and broadcast on CBS.
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