Losing was not an unexpected result for the Detroit Lions, but that does little to ease the pain.
The Lions shot out to an impressive lead over the favorite San Francisco 49ers, but a third-quarter meltdown doomed the lead, the win, and the season. Now that a promising season is over, the time for reflection is here. We can reflect on the season that was. It was a breakout year from rookies Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Branch. It was a dominant offensive line. It was a career renaissance for Jared Goff. It was potentially a head coaching springboard for Ben Johnson or Aaron Glenn. It was pulse-raising and heartbreaking. It was a season like no other. Yet like all others, it ends in a Super Bowl-less finale.
The past 24 hours have been a hurricane of emotions. Let us vent a bit.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
How do you feel following the Detroit Lions’ NFC Championship loss?
My answer: Gutted.
I want to feel optimistic about the Lions’ future, and that certainly will come with time, but fresh off one of the more devastating defeats in Lions’ history, I feel little right now.
I am a Vancouver Canucks fan, and this moment feels very similar to their 2011 Stanley Cup defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins. At one point in the series, the Canucks were leading three games to two with two chances to clinch the title. Instead, they lost Game 6 and were blown out in Game 7.
The Lions’ loss to the 49ers mirrors this feeling in a shorter scale. The first half was joyous, and you could envision the coming battle with the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Yet on the cusp of victory, a late collapse when it mattered most made all of the prior moments of excitement null. What good is being one win away from the Stanley Cup if you cannot close it out? What good is a 24-7 halftime lead if the team collapses soon after?
What really stings about this loss isn’t the loss itself, but how close Detroit was to winning. Had the Lions been blown out by the 49ers from the onset, it would have been bad, no doubt, but at least we could have argued that the 49ers were the superior team on paper. Had the Lions lost a back-and-forth game, then the narrative would have been that the Lions went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the league. Instead, losing in such fashion is crushing. Choking away a sizable lead feels worse to me than never having that lead in the first place.
On the whole, I will still look back positively at this season for all that was accomplished, but how the season ended with forever haunt me.
We were so close.