In 1973, Bob Griese and the high-powered Miami Dolphins played the Lions at Tiger Stadium in December. It was -20 degrees.Their breath practically froze in mid air.
“We’re outta here,” Griese told the referee in the first quarter. “My offensive line has frost bite. Larry Csonka’s lips are iced shut. I can’t feel my fingers. We’re done with this game.”
Thus, Miami exited the field in the first quarter.
And in the fourth quarter … the Lions scored a touchdown and won the game.
That’s right, they had three quarters to snap the football to themselves and move down the empty field – but they fumbled snaps, committed penalties, and mismanaged the clock. Detroit Lions football at its finest.
That, of course, is a joke.
But nothing is funny about the ongoing circus throughout history as the Lions continue to beat themselves, as shown again Sunday in Arizona.
It was evident from the first play of scrimmage when Nate Burleson’s end-around translated into an 8-yard loss. It was that “here we go again” feeling. Rewind the tape 22 years, and you’ll see Lions quarterback Erik Kramer receive a blind-side pasting from Washington’s Charles Mann in the 1991 NFC Championship.
Same ol’ Lions. Nothing has changed. The linebackers cannot track running backs in the passing game. Turnovers are crippled by flags. Punt returners run south instead of north. And when four yards are needed to extend a drive, they predictably gain three.
Lieutenant Bobby Ross infamously said “abandon ship.” Jim Schwartz broadcasts “Saving Private Ryan.” The common denominator is watching their Lions evaporate in the desert (you remember Bobby’s 2-point conversion decision in 1999, right?)
Reggie Bush dazzles in his debut at Ford Field and draws statistical comparisons to Billy Sims, but one week later, he needs an MRI. In Philadelphia, David Akers couldn’t miss. In Detroit, he gets two attempts and cannot make either. Israel Idonije led the NFL in blocked punts and blocked field goals from 2005-2007 in Chicago, but give him a Lions jersey, and he’s on the wrong end of his once-famous stat line as Justin Bethel sneaks by him and blocks a kick.
Wanna talk about consistency? The Lions have 19 yellow flags in two games and Brandon Pettigrew makes several mistakes a week.
And how about clock management? Schwartz, who has been criticized for this same issue in the past, wasted the final 53 seconds of the first half Sunday, ala Wayne Fontes. And why call a timeout ahead by two points late in the fourth quarter? Arizona was at the 32-yard line, not the 12-yard line. Who says the Cardinals make a long-range field goal if they continue to run? That timeout gave Arizona an opportunity to throw the ball downfield.
Sure enough, Andre Roberts rose out of obscurity, burned Bill Bentley and drew a pass-interference penalty. No Larry Fitzgerald? No problem. Somebody will find a way to beat the Lions, just like so many times in the past. Our favorites: Chris Weinke, who went 2-18 during his NFL career, yet managed to throw a game-winning TD pass at Ford Field in 2005. And of course, Joey Harrington, a whipping boy in Detroit, a winner in a Dolphins jersey.
Seven straight losses in Arizona.
Next week, another streak likely continues in Washington D.C. Superstar Robert Griffin III is seething from an 0-2 start and the Lions have lost 21 straight in the nation’s capital.
Same ol’ Lions? Sure seems like it.