Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings - Final thoughts: The refs didn't cost the Lions the game, but they sure as Hell helped
1. First things first. I realize all Lions fans are blaming the refereeing for the loss. And yes, I do agree the refs had not a clue, and made a couple of bizarre calls which royally screwed over the Lions. The big one was the pass interference call on Leigh Bodden. It was as bogus a call I've ever seen. A phantom penalty without question. The blown call gave the Vikings a short field, allowing them to play for the game winning field goal.
The other call was just as mystifying. I have no idea what the refs were looking at on the Calvin Johnson "fumble." I didn't know ripping the ball out of an in injured player's hands when he's down was considered a fumble! Let alone the fact Johnson was knocked out of the game on the same play thanks to an illegal helmet to helmet hit.
Sure, the refs were beyond awful to the point of blowing goats, and need to be called out. I'm sure the NFL will be hearing from the Lions tomorrow, not that it will make a whit of difference. But the loss is not all on the refs, and I bet Rod Marinelli says as much (along with "pound the rock," "it's on me" and "I already answered that") at the Monday presser. The Lions more than helped to dig their own 0-5 grave.
The offense was, for long stretches, incapable of getting positive yards. The defense played the best they have all season, but it's all relative. They still gave up 392 yards to a Vikings offense led by the immortal (only because he once knocked himself out of a game for celebrating a score by head butting a stadium wall) journeyman, Gus Ferrotte. At the very least, Ferrotte didn't run out of the back of the end zone...
The Vikings aren't that good. Playing in the NFC North is the only reason they have a shot at the playoffs. So losing in the last second to such a mediocre NFL team is nothing to be proud of, even if the refs did have a hand in it. The Lions didn't deserve to win. Period.
One close loss after 4 blowout debacles is nothing to get excited about. This is still a lousy team that will lose 10 + games, and will have new coach in 2009.
2. Dan Orlovsky running out of the end zone for a safety was INEXCUSABLE, and turned out to be the difference on the scoreboard. High school QB's have a better sense of field awareness than Orlovsky showed on the play. Such sheer stupidity from your most important player is how you lose games.
That's important to note, because Orlovsky isn't a playmaker. He is merely a game manager, and not a very good one at that. Your QB finishing 12-21-150-1 TD will not win you many games. When you can't win on your own, then you sure as Hell better not make mistakes that gives the opposition easy points.
Personally, I'm ready for the Drew Stanton era to begin.
3. Here's the stats for Detroit's running back tandem:
Kevin Smith: 5 carries, 62 yards, 12.4 YPC.
Rudi Johnson: 17 carries, 38 yards, 2.2 YPC.
Why is Smith's status as the Lions' best running back even in question? He should be getting the majority of the carries. I've given up trying to figure out Marinelli's depth chart, save for one thing that's obvious. Being a veteran player means more to him than having actual talent.
4. It took Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry 4 games to figure out his defense needed to blitz, and blitz often, in order to pressure the QB. After committing to the blitz, the Detroit defense ended up with 5 sacks, after having 4 in 4 games. I guess that's why Barry makes the big bucks, huh?
I know the Lions can't blitz every down, or even every series, as when you live by the blitz, you die by the blitz. NFL offenses will figure it out, and gameplan accordingly. But the Lions' coaches had to do something, anything, to keep the opposition QB's from picking the d-backfield apart. Bringing linebackers, corners and safeties on blitzes to pressure the QB was the obvious solution.
Blitzing early and often worked at times against Ferrotte, but he's a brain-addled version of Jon Kitna. Even with the pressure, Ferrotte still had 257 yards passing and a TD. There were still plenty of Vikings' wide outs running untouched in open space in the Detroit defensive backfield.
I doubt an everything but the kitchen sink blitzing strategy will work well against the likes of David Gerrard, Jake Delhomme, Kerry Collins, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. All experienced QB's who have had more than fair share of success, and then some, in the NFL. Meaning the Lions will ultimately have to get QB pressure from their down linemen.
We have yet to see anyt sort of consistent pass rush from the front 4 during Marinelli's tenure as head coach. For someone who was sold to the fanbase as a miracle worker with down linemen, his not developing a dominant d-line will be Marinelli's downfall.
5. After the game, Leigh Bodden was quoted as wanting an apology from the NFL.
"I hope we get an apology, but that’s not going to get us a win," Bodden said. "And that really took us away from getting the ’W’ today."
Bodden wants an apology from the league, and I want $10 million and a hot blonde to materialize out of thin air, and into my lap. Neither one is going to happen.
6. I'm drained. Fucking mentally drained. The Lions just drain the emotion out of me, and not in a good way. At least my head didn't explode this week. But it's a loooong season...
One more thing...
To all the fans bitching and moaning about the Lions not getting calls from the referees; BAD TEAMS DON'T GET CALLS!