Saturday's wild-card game between the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints won't be the first time these two teams have met this season. They actually played just a month ago in New Orleans. The Saints won 31-17 and handed the Lions their third loss in four games.
In that game, the Lions managed to keep things close for a quarter before the wheels came off and the Saints started to pull away. A Mark Ingram 14-yard touchdown made it 10-0 in the second quarter, and Drew Brees' 67-yard touchdown pass to Robert Meachem, who ran circles around Eric Wright, made it 17-0. Although the Lions did add a touchdown on a two-yard run by Kevin Smith, the Saints answered with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore, making it 24-7 at halftime.
Like they usually do when facing a big halftime deficit, the Lions battled back and made this a close game. The Lions got within two possessions thanks to a Jason Hanson field goal, and a nine-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Maurice Morris made it 24-17. After forcing a three-and-out, the Lions nearly tied the game on a big pass to Nate Burleson. He couldn't keep his balance and stay inbounds, so he picked up only 47 yards rather than the game-tying touchdown. The Lions couldn't move the ball after this play and ended up missing a 55-yard field goal, resulting in the score remaining 24-17.
This whole sequence is when the Lions missed their chance to tie the game up and make things interesting. The Saints answered with a score to make it 31-17, and that is what the final score ended up being. While the Lions had chances here or there to again make it close, their repeated mistakes and moronic penalties cost them any chance of actually winning this game.
Aside from the penalties, the Lions' biggest issue in this game was that they were shorthanded. Ndamukong Suh was suspended, and guys like Kevin Smith, Chris Houston, Louis Delmas and Lawrence Jackson were either out or too injured to do all that much. That's not to excuse their performance, but all of those guys should play this Saturday when the Lions and Saints meet again. Hopefully the end result this time around will be a Lions victory.