One kick. The entire season was dependent on the likes of one kick.
If a 45-yard field goal from New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was good, the Detroit Lions’ hopes of winning the NFC North and making the 2013 playoffs would comes to a complete end.
But this could not be reality, as was it not just six weeks ago the Lions were 6-3 and sitting pretty in the driver’s seat of the division lead? How did it go so drastically wrong?
As I mentioned earlier, the Lions were once the proud owner of a 6-3 record, so bare with me for a moment as we reminisce to what now seems forever ago.
Detroit held on to beat the division-rival Chicago Bears 21-19. With the win, the Lions seemed to be in complete control of the division. The Bears were 5-4 and suddenly without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, while the Green Bay Packers were also 5-4 without their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Everything seemed to be going the Lions’ way. They were a game ahead of both division rivals, and three games over .500. This made it seem as if playoffs were a certainty, and winning the division was a realistic expectation.
After the game against the Bears, reporters caught up with Lions coach Jim Schwartz who said, “We came out with a victory on the road against a really tough team. It was a hard-fought win. Proud of the players, but that’s the only thing that means (anything) today.”
Obviously there was not much else for Schwartz to say at that time, but what he did not realize was how it would soon turn for the worse for himself and his team.
The following week, the Lions would go to Pittsburgh to face off against the Steelers who were 4-6 and struggling to get things going on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were dominant through the first half, leading Detroit to 27 points in the second quarter and a seven point halftime lead.
Then, all of a sudden, something went horribly wrong. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lions were clinging to a three-point lead. They were driving and in the Steelers red zone. But because of rainy conditions and a struggling kicker, Jim Schwartz decided to attempt a fake field goal. The holder, Sam Martin, took the snap and tried to run for a first down. As you could probably guess, Martin was held short of the first down and the Steelers would recover an irrelevant Martin fumble and take over on downs.
That one play summarized the entire season and ultimately their entire history. Year after year, Lions fans hope for a winning season, a playoff bid or even the chance to call themselves a fanbase of a respectable football team. But after witnessing the worst season professional football has ever seen in 2008, most Detroit football fans now know never to get their hopes up. It is always too good to be true.
After the game against the Bears, the Lions finished their next five games with a record of 1-4. However, with two games left to play and the team sitting in third place in the division, the Lions still had a chance to win the NFC North. They needed to win their two remaining games and hoped for one loss each from the Packers and Bears.
Detroit hosted the New York Giants in week 16. And of course, it appeared to be a match made in heaven. The Giants were one of the worst teams in the league with a record of 5-9, and had absolutely nothing to play for. Every football follower around the globe knew the Lions were incredibly unclutch, but even this seemed too easy of a game not to win.
After an underwhelming four quarters, Detroit was tied with the Giants 20-20 entering OT. That leads us back to the Josh Brown field goal, with the Giants having an opportunity to win the game in overtime.
Now, obviously, most of you know the outcome of that Brown field goal by now. But if you are not aware quite yet, he made it. And just like that, the season with so much promise was for all intensive purposes over.
Currently the Lions remain in third place in the NFC North with a record of 7-8, and no chance of making the playoffs. So now I ask you again, how did things go so drastically wrong? Well, the answer to that is simple – they were out-coached.
Look out for part two Friday night.
Cameron Billes is the host of Horsepower for Impact Sports