Next up for the 2015 POD Awards is the category for the Detroit Lions' Game of the Year. Here are the nominees:
Lions 10, Seahawks 13 - Week 4
To avoid an 0-4 start, the Lions had the unlikely task of beating the Seattle Seahawks at home in front of a rowdy Monday Night Football crowd. The game itself was a bit boring through three quarters, as both teams' offenses struggled to cross midfield. When the Seahawks took a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, it seemed unlikely the Lions would catch them. But with just 8:32 remaining in the game, Caraun Reid scooped up a fumble and scored, setting the stage for a thrilling finish. And, boy did we get a thrilling finish.
Down three, the Lions started their potential game-winning drive at their own 9-yard line. Their previous five drives had gone for a total of 23 yards. There seemed little hope that this drive would be any different. But somehow, the Lions offense finally clicked and as the clock wound down, Detroit found themselves easily in field goal range to tie up the game. But as they neared the endzone, a field goal was no longer the target goal. Facing a third-and-1 from the Seahawks 11-yard line, Stafford fired a ball right into the arms of Calvin Johnson. Johnson's momentum would clearly taking him into the endzone for the game-winning score, but Kam Chancellor ensured that the ball would not be making the trip with him. As the loose ball bounced around the Seahawks paint, KJ Wright committed the illegal Bat Heard Round the World, knocking the ball out of bounds and forcing the turnover. What would follow is a completely breakdown of a lesser-known rule. It would come to light that Wright's batting of the ball was illegal and should have given the Lions another chance to score, which they almost certainly would have.
Not the ending the Lions deserved, but a thrilling game nonetheless.
Lions 37, Bears 34 (OT) - Week 6
What better week for the Lions to pick up their first win of the season than against the Chicago Bears? Okay, I can think of five better weeks, but after an 0-5 start an exciting win against the Bears is just what the doctor ordered. After a month of struggles, the Lions offense blew up for 546 yards, their highest total of the year by over 100 yards. This game had everything. An extremely controversial play (that went in the Lions' favor, no less), five lead changes, and TWO last-minute scores.
The Lions took the lead with just 21 seconds after Calvin Johnson hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass. But Alshon Jeffery quickly ate up 49 yards of offense and drew a pass interference call, putting the Bears easily in field goal range to tie up the game. After both teams struggled through the first half of overtime, Calvin pulled in a bomb to essentially end the game and finally put the Lions in the win column.
Lions 18, Packers 16 - Week 10
Coming off the bye week and the firing of the team president and general manager, the Lions looked to pick up their second win of the season in Lambeau: a place they hadn't emerged victorious since [who cares, we don't need to ever reference this stat anymore]. After boring first half, the Lions took control of the game to open the second stanza. Ameer Abdullah's 104-yard kickoff return set the Lions up for a (should have been) easy touchdown. The Packers drew close with a late touchdown, cutting the Lions' lead to just two, but the Lions responded with a quick touchdown of their own. An extra point would push their lead to two possessions with under two minutes remaining...but Matt Prater missed it, his second extra point miss of the game.
What followed was pandemonium. Green Bay seemingly easily scored that potentially game-tying score, but the unlikely hero Crezdon Butler knocked down the Packers' two point conversion attempt. Game over. Lions win. But WAIT. With 32 seconds remaining, the Packers lined up for an onside kick, and as the ball traveled through Megatron's fingers and eventually into the arms of a Packers player, Lions fans accepted that the Lambeau Curse was real and would never end. But the Football Gods were not done messing with the hearts of football fans that day. Mason Crosby's wobbly 52-yard attempt never had a chance. The Lions escaped Green Bay with a win. Somehow.
Lions 45, Eagles 14 - Week 12
Riding a two-game winning streak, the Lions hosted the Eagles on Thanksgiving day. Detroit had their way with Philadelphia from start to finish. Stafford threw for five touchdown passes, three to Johnson. The Lions defense held Chip Kelly's offense to just seven points through the first 55 minutes of the game. The Lions would finish the game with their largest margin of victory since Week 8 in 2011. The win pushed the Lions to a 4-7 record, allowing fans drunk off the holiday Kool Aid to simulate the endless playoff scenarios for Detroit.
Lions 23, Packers 27 - Week 13
Those playoff dreams would come crashing down in gruesome fashion just a week later. Everything was going perfect for the Lions. Detroit had completely control over the Packers, taking a 17-0 lead into halftime. The Lions' playoff hopes were suddenly not so pipe-dreamy. But then the Packers scored an ominous touchdown, after recovering their own fumble in the endzone.
Still, the Lions took an 11 point lead into the final seven minutes of the game. After allowing a touchdown, the Lions offense took the field and ended up converting a huge third-and-12, allowing themselves to run down the clock to just 30 seconds before punting the ball back to Green Bay. With just 23 seconds remaining, even Aaron Rodgers couldn't lead the Packers to the win, could he? We all live in the future now, so we know the tragic answer. After a failed lateral play pushed the clock to 0:00, a controversial facemask penalty extended the game for one more play. Rodgers hauled the Hail Mary right into the arms of his poorly-guarded teammate and ended the Lions' hopes of an unfathomable playoff run.