Wow, that was one of the most painful losses I have been a part of. So much so, that I am still thinking about it at 11:30pm and I can't seem to go to sleep - perhaps getting some thoughts down in a place where others will commiserate will help. While this was painful, there was plenty of good to be taken from this game:
Ryan Broyles had a monster game. We had two receivers go for over 100 yards, and one of them was a guy one year removed from an ACL injury. A player who should only get better next year. We have a complete threat in a slot receiver and hopefully we can now put to rest the controversy about picking him in the second round. (OK, it will do no such thing, but one can dream)
Reilly Reiff - Backus had his incredible streak of starts end, but we got to see our first round pick in action against a very aggressive pass rush team. I certainly haven't had time to do an in depth film study (although I am sure someone will do so in the next few days when the sting wears off a bit), but I don't recall hearing Reiff's name mentioned at all. No penalties, no "the rookie let the quarterback get creamed". No news is good news when you are an offensive lineman - especially at left tackle. Stafford's blind side seems well protected for the foreseeable future.
Effort and Overall play - Full disclosure time here, unfortunately I stated in the "Ask a Texan Fan" post that I could live with a loss as long as the Lions came out and played well. Unfortunately, I got what I asked for. The Lions scored on their first drive (for the first time this year). The defense was playing with passion and making good plays, the offense was taking short passes as well as long ones. This was en exciting game that even though we lost, should mean that no one is clamoring for an end to watching the Lions on Thanksgiving. The team with the best record in the league came in against a team that was struggling at 4-6 and we did not get embarrassed, or blown out. We should have won the game, but we did play well on a nationally televised game and gave people an exciting product to watch on Thanksgiving Day.
Titas Young - we clearly didn't miss him in this game and if we had been able to win without him it would have been that much sweeter. I was really happy that the Lions finally started putting their money where the mouth is when they benched him for this important game, and I am ready to move on from this failed experiment. How someone can be a prima donna on the same team as Calvin Johnson is beyond me - especially when you have failed to take advantage of the weaker coverage that this affords you. Ryan Broyles clearly took advantage of that weaker coverage today and I was happy with Mike Thomas as well. I would be fine with keeping TY out for the rest of the season. While I would love to trade him and get something (draft picks, a decent safety), I would be fine with cutting him loose and moving on.
Brandon Pettigrew - man I was excited to see him play like we expect in the first half to 3/4 of the game. In the fourth quarter though, his drops and inability to hold onto the ball cost us another game. I am not ready to throw him away quite yet, but if I were Stafford, I would be hard pressed to trust him with the ball in the 4th quarter or with the game on the line. He has to do something about his ball security and ability to handle the ball when it really matters.
Challenges - as bad as the mistake that Schwartz made was, it was not as bad as not getting the first challenge. I can see the officials missing it in real time, but upon review it was clear that we should have gotten the ball.
Passion - Schwartz is a smart guy. He knows the rules and is supposed to be like a football genius. I hope that this failure makes him realize that he needs to be less emotional on the sideline and be the emotional rock for this team. He needs to get the players to play with passion, but he needs to hold players responsible for poor play and be the cool head on the sideline.
Suh - I don't know if he is really capable of twisting in midair with his head facing the other way and plant a kick right to the groin of the QB. He is a hell of an athlete, so I will admit it is possible - also possible that he did choose to swing an extra effort out there just in case. I personally feel that it was an accidental hit from flying in the air, but regardless do we really need this kind of negativity coming from the press. I have no idea what to do about this, but Suh is getting quite the reputation and I don't know if it is bad for the team or not.
OK, here is what I am ultimately trying to get at with this long post - imagine if Jason Hanson hits that field goal. We would be ecstatic. We had played a solid game, persevered through adversity (calls going against us, mistakes) and beaten the "Best Team in the League" on Thanksgiving day. We would be excitedly posting all of the positives listed above and would have had a wonderful holiday.
But what would have really changed? Would we have really become a contender for a playoff spot - not really (we would have needed to come away with at least one of the previous two games). Even with the loss, we have proven that we are capable, but we need to put it all together somehow. I would like to think that the team can come together and take a good look at the last few weeks and try to figure out what to do from here. This is not the same old Lions team - we clearly have talent and the ability to be good when we put it all together, we just aren't doing that for some reason. I am tired of the blame game and I am hopeful that we can put an end to that. I don't want them to whine about this game and say that if one of the challenges had gone their way they would have won this game, I want them to see the good and the bad and figure out how to become consistent.
There are some very good things going on with this team - the front four is really coming together, and Fairley is playing like a first round pick (I was amazed and excited when he chose not slam Rodgers into the ground last game - he needs to get a lot of credit for that great choice in the heat of the moment, I am not sure that Suh would have made the same choice). There are also some very bad things going on which are keeping us from becoming the team that we looked like last season. Perhaps the team can gain some perspective from this and figure out a positive path forward.
And perhaps now I can get some sleep. Thanks for indulging my rambliings.