TiVo Time: Detroit Lions
With Week 17 being a near-meaningless game, I’m not going to spend the time doing a full analysis of the game. Instead, TiVo Time will roll through the game just like Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn through the Detroit Lions defense.
9-0, Lions — Only two minutes have passed in the game and yet it’s already 9-0 Lions. Frankly, I don’t remember the Packers ever falling behind so quickly. Like at least 50 percent of Packers fans at this point, I’m thinking the rout is on.
Pat Lee and Chad Clifton seemingly conspired to put the Packers in this early hole. Let’s just say the decision to have Lee replace Randall Cobb on kick returns didn’t quite work out.
In his excitement to return the opening kickoff, Lee forgot one thing: the football. He left it rolling in the end zone as he started up field. Amazingly, Lee tried to pick the ball up instead of covering it up, with half the Lions cover team closing on him. Fortunately, Lee and the Lions manage to bat the ball out of the end zone.
The Packers would only have the ball for four plays. After finding Donald Driver rather easily for 17 yards on first down, Matt Flynn is pressured by Kyle Vanden Bosch and throws the ball too far outside for Jordy Nelson to catch it in bounds. Then, on third down, Vanden Bosch and Sammy Hill run a stunt on the left side. T.J. Lang handles Vanden Bosch, but Clifton gets beat by Hill, who sacks Flynn as he tries to step up. Flynn loses the ball and the Lions recover.
The Lions turn the turnover into a TD in an equal number of plays. The majority of the 35 yards to the end zone is covered by a 20-yard out to Calvin Johnson against a rare cover 2 defense from the Packers.
Setting the tone for what would be a horrendously long and frenetic game, the Lions run the hurry-up offense the entire time.
On 2nd and goal, the Lions take a second shot at Sam Shields. Shields is in excellent position, but takes a swipe at and misses a well-aimed back shoulder throw from Matt Stafford to Titus Young.
Pat Lee then compounds the hilarity of his cameo as the Packers return guy by having the ball bounce off his leg, letting it roll completely out of the end zone, though by half an inch, and then pulling it back into the end zone to down it. It takes a two-minute conference and a quartet of refs to figure out that this is indeed a safety.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an easier two points scored by anyone in the history of football. Think about it. The Lions didn’t even have to touch the ball or Pat Lee to make it happen. Pat Lee makes miracles happen, baby.
Amazingly, the Lions postpone my trip to the bar by going three and out after the free kick. For the only time in the game, the Lions decide to run the ball twice in a row. They get three yards for their trouble. On 3rd and 7, Brad Jones frees himself with a spin move and gets in Stafford’s face. As stunned as me by the pass rush, Stafford throws the ball harmlessly over Kevin Smith’s head.
The Packers then announce they might keep this competitive by going 64 yards in 15 plays. The methodical drive included three 3rd down conversions: two to Jermichael Finley, who apparently decided to show up this game. It also included an 18-yard pass to Nelson after Flynn scrambled out of the pocket to his left.
On 3rd and goal, Flynn dumps to John Kuhn, and the Packers kick a short field goal to make it 9-3.
10-9, Packers — The Packers erase the early deficit altogether when Nelson takes a quick pass at the 7-yard line, treats Detroit corner Alonzo Smith like a bitch and jogs into the end zone.
The Packers capitalized on the first turnover of the game, when Kevin Smith fumbles after being blind-sided by Desmond Bishop. Morgan Burnett picked up the fumble and returned it to the Lions’ 48.
16-10, Lions — After each team punted, the Lions go 60 yards in 10 plays to take the lead again. The drive ended with a rather easy TD pass to Calvin Johnson.
The Packers forced a 4th and 3 at the 37, but the Lions went for it and picked it up with a short pass over the middle to Nate Burleson.
The Lions may have been screwed out of a TD later, but this one shouldn’t have happened at all. Vic So’oto actually had an interception when he stripped the ball from Tony Scheffler near midfield. The refs at first ruled it a fumble and recovery. The Lions challenged. The refs took the path of least resistance by ruling the Scheffler had possession of the ball prior to being taken to the ground and was thus down by contact.
Horse manure. The replay showed Scheffler still trying to control the ball as So’oto hit him. Once taken to the ground, as we have seen over and over again this season, Scheffler then had to maintain possession of the ball through the entire process in order for it to be a catch. He didn’t. So’oto stripped him after both hit the ground. By the current rules, that should have been an interception and Packers’ ball.
17-16, Packers — The Packers answer in two plays to take the lead right back.
On 2nd down from the 20, the Lions blitzed both linebackers. Flynn dumped to Ryan Grant to avoid it. Grant picked up blocks from Driver and Nelson and sprinted up the Packers’ sideline for 80 yards. Grant lays exhausted in the end zone and does snow angels minus the snow. Unimpressed, the refs flag him for it.
Afterwards, Flynn would tweet: “Drew Brees and his 8 yards per pass average can bite me.”
Momentary chaos ensues afterward. The Packers kick off from their 20. The metrosexually-named Stefan Logan fumbles just past midfield and the Packers recover.
Logan clearly appears to be down and the Lions challenge. Unfortunately for them, no camera angle clearly shows Logan controlling the ball all the way to the ground. The call stands and the Lions are out of challenges.
Two plays later Flynn hits the wrong jersey on a slant. Smith returns it to the Packers’ 38 before Finley makes his best play of the game with the tackle. Hey, that’s the kind of effort that can get you paid.
The Lions would get a field goal out of the turnover. It could have been a touchdown to Titus Young, but it was a bang-bang play in the corner of the end zone that was missed. On TV, Brian Billick would lament the Lions being out of challenges more than his 2001 trade for Elvis Grbac. Yeah, coach, what we need is for every play to be reviewed and then we could stretch these games out to six hours. Good thinking.
Jim Schwartz loses his mind and wastes a timeout over it. I can read lips and I believe I can quote the ref by saying, “Coach, take a break. You don’t have to be a prick every day of your life.”
24-19, Packers — The Packers respond with another quick touchdown drive.
After a 3rd down pass to Finley and a pass interference call drawn by Driver got 16 and 21 yards, respectively, Flynn caught the Lions offside and threw one up for Nelson in true Aaron Rodgers style. Nelson jumped over the hopelessly overmatched Smith for his second touchdown of the game.
The teams traded missed field goals to end the first half.
The Lions first drive of the second half ends with a Jarrett Bush interception. The Packers actually got pressure up the middle by Bishop, and good things happen when the opposing QB actually gets rushed.
26-24, Lions — The Lions get the lead back with a short TD pass to Young.
The Lions moved the ball just fine on their own, but the Packers and refs also gave them plenty of help. After passes to Brandon Pettigrew and Johnson got them inside the red zone, the Lions were aided by two personal foul calls against the Packers.
The first came on a sack by So’oto where Erik Walden piled on Stafford about a millisecond after he was down. The second came on a false start by the Lions where the refs failed to stop the play. Stafford still threw the ball and Bishop gave him a shot in turn. Both were stupid plays, but the call on Walden was definitely weak.
Stafford flopped like a little girl on both plays. A common move for Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler, but I had never seen Stafford do it until these two plays. Do you think the Lions want to win much?
31-26, Packers — Nelson proceeds to burn every DB the Lions have and finishes another Packers drive with a 58-yard TD.
The Packers went 80 yards in four plays with Nelson catching three passes on the drive. The TD came on the play-action, roll-right that Rodgers has made famous.
34-31, Lions — The Lions answer with an 80-yard drive in six plays, as the defenses attempt to see who can be more inept.
Most of the damage was done on a 41-yard reception by Megatron followed by a 27-yard reception. The Packers’ bumblebee-like attempts to cover Johnson are so comical at this point that I can only hope they aren’t really trying.
After a short TD pass to Kevin Smith, the Lions go for two and pick it up on a quick slant to Scheffler.
The Packers’ next drive ends on a sack by Donkey Kong Suh, who then guarantees a Packer win by doing the Discount Double-Check.
The Lions help end their own drive when Pettigrew drops the ball on 4th down.
38-34, Packers — The Lions defense improves its efforts to put Matt Flynn in the record books by not only being ineffectual, but by giving the Packers two 1st downs on penalties.
Finally on 3rd and 8 from the Lions’ 35, Flynn hits Driver cutting across the middle. Driver found a wide open seam and went untouched for another Packers’ TD.
After the Packers forced a three and out, the Lions get a stop of their own. On 3rd and 11, Flynn temporarily loses his mind and takes off from a solid pocket instead of throwing the ball to Nelson and ends up getting sacked.
41-38, Lions — The Lions get their last lead and celebrate like they just won the game.
The Lions went 93 yards in six plays, with two long passes to the tight end that, frankly, Stafford had no business throwing and a softish pass interference call that picked up 36 yards.
On 1st and goal from the 2, Megatron saved the game for the Lions by interfering with Tramon Williams and stopping an interception. It wouldn’t cost Detroit. Two plays later Stafford lofted his best pass of the game to Scheffler, who gets up and does with a TD celebration Johnny Weir would be jealous of.
The cameras clearly show Stafford yelling “Eff you!” towards the Packers as the Lions celebrate on the sideline. I would like to caution Matty against celebrating too soon.
45-41, Packers — Told ya.
The Packers go 80 yards in eight plays, facing only two 3rd downs along the way. On the first, Suh jumped offside to give the Packers a 1st down. On the second, Flynn found James Jones down the Packers’ sideline for 40 yards to the Lions’ 6. Jones beat Chris Houston on the play. Now all the corners for the Lions have failed to cover any of the Packers receivers.
Jones also caught the first pass of the drive for 16 yards. What a performance Nelson, Jones and Finley have put on today. Without Jennings on the field, they’ve still been too much for the Lions to handle.
Flynn’s ridiculous sixth TD of the game comes on a quick back-hip pass to Finley.
The Lions get to the Packers’ 37, mostly thanks to another crazy catch by Johnson for 21 yards, but the fairy tale would end there after a Sam Shields interception.
As Stafford walks off the field with his head down, I laugh my ass off.
The loss to the Chiefs seemed to drain a lot of the magic out of this season, and I was concerned the Packers appeared all too willing to lose two out of three as they headed to the playoffs.
I believe this game did a lot to restore the magic and my faith in this team. The Packers sat their four best players and yet still beat another playoff team that was going all out to win.
Yes, the defense was comically bad at times, but should we really fear a shootout? The Lions practically forced a shootout with their insistence on going with the no-huddle offense, and even with their starting QB, their best receiver, their best running back, and their best lineman not playing, the Packers still won against the fourth-best offense in football.
The only game the Packers lost in 2011 was one where the opponent was smart enough to play ball control and keep the score down. San Francisco is the only NFC team I see even capable of playing that game.
The Packers are 5-0 against the other NFC playoff teams. By the way, the Lions are 0-5. I almost feel bad for the Lions. Every time they think they’re legit, the Packers embarrass them again.
I truly expect the Packers to play better defense in the playoffs, but even if they don’t, I expect them to keep scoring enough to win. They should be a really tough beat at Lambeau.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.