In a world where silence was the new weapon, the caverns of Ford Field sat dismal. Christmas' ruins hung lifeless, the festivities bringing hangover into the weekend. But it would prove a useful weapon for the Lions, drawing the 49ers offsides again and again early in the first half, before leaning on offensive efficiency to put the game out of reach.
But that's getting ahead of ourselves. The Niners came out swinging on the arm of Blaine Gabbert, connecting with Anquan Boldin again and again until switching it up to a few rushing attacks and capped with a Vance McDonald touchdown. The Lions were on the back foot quickly and answered with a 36-yard Prater field goal.
On the next Lions possession, a stop at fourth-and-one looked as if the Lions would punt it away, but Isa Abdul-Quddus, who famously hates punts, took the ball for a fake and pushed forward for the first down. Soon after, Matthew Stafford found TJ Jones in traffic for the first Lions touchdown of the day. The 49ers would respond with their own fireworks as Blaine Gabbert found Torrey Smith in the endzone on a 16 yard pass.
The 49ers fumbled near their own goal line, and the Lions punched it in with Joique Bell. Once again Blaine Gabbert got back to scything the Lions defense, but a missed field goal kept the Lions in business long enough to answer with their own made field goal for the halftime.
Starting into the third quarter, the Lions chewed and mangled the clock for six minutes and change before kicking a field goal. But as the Lions kicked it off to the 49ers, flags came flying. 15 yards were assessed on a late hit on the kick return, and then another 15 yards from a late hit out of bounds. Thankfully, the 49ers were in a post-holiday mood as they returned the festive gift back to the store and punted.
The Lions backfield went to work. Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell punished the Niners on the ground while Theo Riddick proved himself invaluable again as his force field held defenders at bay, gliding down sidelines for first downs and busting into the secondary. The Lions stood in the redzone, and it was then that Golden Tate summoned a pass interference flag in the back of the endzone, setting up for a young receiver full of potential named Calvin Johnson to filch the touchdown. Despite the failed two-point conversion, the Lions were in full control. Crazy, I know.
The Niners flailed and flailed but the Lions defense held strong. Blaine Gabbert began to scramble for his life, avoiding Ezekiel Ansah but nevertheless forced to dispatch the ball with haste. A late Matt Prater field goal sealed the deal as the Lions leaned on their backfield to run out the clock, a rare feat to be sure. Another turnover on down by the Niners later and the Lions were taking the victory formation on their final home game of the season.
I'm giving the game ball this time to the cavernous silence of Ford Field. It obviously played out of its mind, forcing the 49ers offsides or into the neutral zone seven times. Home field advantage really played to its strength today. If I had a second game ball (which would be silly! Who has two game balls?! What is this, hockey?) it would go to Theo Riddick and his magical force field, as the receiving running back continued to prove his invaluable worth time and time again. He now holds the single-season receiving yards record for a Lions running back.