What is this nonsense? Did the Lions just close out a game with A.) offense in the second half and B.) running plays to burn the clock while simultaneously securing game-ending first downs to result in C.) a second consecutive win for the third win of the season?
Did Darius Slay just silence Amari Cooper, one of the prolific rookies of this latest draft class, and prove himself a shutdown corner for a second week running? The box score doesn't lie. It's right there; Amari spent the entire game trying to box his way out of a gym locker.
Did Teryl Austin seriously get the defense turned around? Jason Jones said the Lions did "soul searching" over the bye and they seem to have put it together, alright. Sure, there were breakdowns and the Raiders did come back in it by scoring 13 unanswered points in the third quarter and for a moment there it looked like this train was about to derail the same way it has in every loss where the Lions have been "competitive."
The Lions still struggled all day when the red zone spread out before them, but in general the progress was there. The first drive was not the only drive where one could look to the Lions for production, although there's certainly quibbles to be found (Ebron dropped an early touchdown, but nothing new there). Those 13 points loomed ominously over Detroit. The Raiders had taken the lead handily after the Lions had but a few yards to offer in the third quarter and field goals before that. Ameer Abdullah, Golden Tate, Calvin Johnson all could get out there, but it felt like this would be a story we had all read before.
The train may have wobbled, but somehow it stayed on the tracks. Denied from the endzone all day, Matthew Stafford somehow chugged his way past silver uniforms and into the Honolulu blue. We were pleasantly surprised to see a rushing touchdown, but to come from that shambling quarterback? I suppose this game couldn't get weirder.
The game got weirder anyway. After trading punts the Lions put the Raiders up against their own endzone and traded their luck on flags. The Raiders graciously spotted the Lions a holding call near the endzone; it wasn't close enough for a safety, so they were very kind and held onto Ezekiel Ansah dead in the middle of the logo just to be safe.
Somehow the Lions burned clock to finish the game. This almost seemed like an illusion given that the previous attempt to do so had only torched a single minute from the mandatory hour of football. The coaches still couldn't trust Ameer Abdullah in the fourth quarter despite a turnover-free and very productive outing for the rookie, but Joique Bell and Theo Riddick nevertheless kept the train rolling for a goal line kneel down to finish the game.
Finish the game? What nonsense is that? There were none of the shenanigans and chicanery that characterize a Lions victory this season. They lost the lead, they struggled to find the redzone, but there were no moments of #LIONSFOOTBALL where Detroit's finest in the National Football League were giving up an on-side kick or taking savage boneheaded penalties, nor was Matthew Stafford throwing the ball at someone's butt to turn it over in a disastrous situation.
Unpredictably, the Lions were...fine. They were okay. They were not bad. There was nothing that characterized this season of football to be found in the box score. It was a suitable football game.
I'm not sure how to process this revelation fully, but it did end with a win, so there's happiness to be found in a game that was executed not spectacularly, but fine. Nothing exploded. No one's severed head rolled onto the field. The flaming nuclear explosion Lions fans had come to expect never came and the masses aren't out fighting super mutants.
In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really mean too much if you're not a draftnik. It just felt good. Football felt good this weekend. That's nice.