Week 17 – Detroit @ Green Bay: “Because they’re the Lions.”

I’m not sure where I heard this, but a few weeks ago somebody inquired about the possibility of Detroit winning the Super Bowl. The negative response was quick and curt and with no statistics to back it up, yet it made sense:

“Because they’re the Lions.”

This is a team that has never been to the Super Bowl and hasn’t won a championship of any kind since 1957. It hasn’t won a division title since 1983 and hasn’t beaten Green Bay at Lambeau Field since 1991.

So is anyone surprised that this year’s edition of the Lions failed in crunchtime yet again?

I hesitate to say this was a “typical” Lions performance, because they’ve been very good for much of the season. They finished with an 11-5 record and have made the postseason for just the second time in 15 years.

But this was a golden opportunity to put some old demons to rest, earn the #2 seed and a first round bye, and get to host a game at Ford Field.

Instead, they are now a #6 seed and have to take a road trip to Dallas to play the red-hot Cowboys. If they win that, a date in the darkest depths of Mordor – aka Century Link Field in Seattle – awaits.

Sunday’s game at Lambeau was like a winner-take-all cage match, with the NFC North title and a week off on the line.

Detroit capitulated quickly, falling behind 14-0 on a 55-yard punt return by Micah Hyde and a short pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall “Not Tex” Cobb.

On that touchdown pass, Rodgers aggravated his calf and was forced to leave the game. Detroit got on the board in the second quarter when Matt Stafford found Calvin Johnson from 20 yards out and it was just 14-7 at the half.

Lions’ fans would have felt even better early in the third quarter, when Stafford again hooked up with Johnson, this time from four yards and things were all tied up at 14-14.

But like Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA playoffs, Rodgers hobbled back onto the not-quite-frozen tundra and proceeded to lead another two touchdown drives – he threw to Cobb again and ran one in himself – as the Pack began to pull away.

Keep in mind that Rodgers, playing most of the game on that bad calf, was 17 of 22 for 226 yards against the vaunted Detroit defense. He threw no interceptions, he wasn’t sacked once and the play most fans will remember is Detroit lineman Ndamukong Suh – who has a reputation as a dirty player – stepping on his leg.

On top of all that, Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy rushed for 100 yards, hardly a good sign for a team that must face the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, next week.

To Detroit’s credit, they scored a late touchdown and almost made a game of it, falling just shy on a two-point conversion.

But that will be little consolation for the long-suffering Lions’ fans who now have to watch their team regroup for a shot at Murray, Tony Romo and Dez Bryant deep in the heart of Texas.

Dec 28
Lambeau Field, Green Bay WI (78,408)

Detroit 0 7 7 6 – 20
Green Bay 7 7 7 9 – 30

Passing: Aaron Rodgers (GB), 226 yds, 2 TD’s
Rushing: Eddie Lacy (GB), 26 car, 100 yds
Receiving: Jordy Nelson (GB), 6 rec, 86 yds
Pigskin Almanac “One legged MVP” award: Aaron Rodgers (GB)

About Ed Wyatt

Ed Wyatt grew up in Halfway, Maryland, following the Baltimore Colts like his football coach father. When he lost his Bert Jones #7 jersey at the Lincolnshire Elementary School playground, he should have taken it as an omen, since the Colts left Baltimore for Indianapolis. Ed has managed to avoid full time work by talking on the radio, smiling on the television and tapping on the keyboard of his computer. He won a number of local Emmy awards with the Seattle-based comedy show Almost Live! and hosted the Super Bowl live on Australian television for nine years. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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