Category: Detroit Lions

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You have to feel sorry for the Lions and their fans

I was going to use this time to point out how irresponsible Lions head coach Dan Campbell was when he had a chance to kick a field goal–twice–but instead elected to go for it–twice–in the second half of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the 49ers at Levi Stadium.

But why bother? Okay, I guess I will use this time to point out Campbell’s mistakes, but that’s not all I want to talk about.

Campbell’s decisions, ones that were obviously unsuccessful, will be dissected ad nauseam. Campbell will likely live with his choices for the rest of his life, which may cause him to wake up in a cold sweat decades down the road.

The Lions led, 24-7, at halftime and 24-10 in the third quarter. They faced a fourth and two from the San Francisco 28. The smart call would have been to take the three points and reestablish a 17-point lead. A three-score lead is always better than a two-score advantage. Instead, Campbell elected to go for it, and Josh Reynolds dropped a catchable pass from quarterback Jared Goff. What followed was a quick touchdown by San Francisco, a fumble by the Lions, followed by another quick touchdown by San Franciso. Boom. Just like that, we had a tie ball game.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the 49ers up, 27-24, Detroit faced a fourth and three from the San Francisco 30. Again, instead of electing to try for three and tie the game, Campbell decided to roll the dice.

Snake eyes.

What followed was another 49ers touchdown that all but sealed the deal.

Final: 34-31, San Francisco.

The 49ers are going to the Super Bowl for the eighth time in franchise history. Meanwhile, Detroit is still searching for its first trip to the Big Game.

And that’s the real tragedy. I like to think I’m pretty good at putting myself in someone else’s shoes, and I can only imagine what the folks in Detroit will be going through this week, as they talk about the what-ifs and what could have been. I don’t care how cynical you are as a fan, when your team is up by 24-7 at halftime, you’re punching tickets. You’re counting chickens before they hatch.

You’re dreaming. You’re fantasizing.

And you’re imagining what you will soon be experiencing, knowing that your favorite football team has never even been to a Super Bowl.

Wow.

Today, Lions fans probably feel as far away from witnessing a Super Bowl berth as they did when Detroit finished 0-16 back in 2008.

The Lions have to rebound and get over the hump before their current window closes. Otherwise, a loss like the one on Sunday will haunt their franchise forever. It will certainly stay with the fans. Believe me, as a Pirates fan who still can’t go back and watch the Game 7 loss to the Braves in the 1992 NLCS, time never heals that kind of wound.

The only thing that heals it is getting over the hump.

The Pirates haven’t gotten over the hump and haven’t been to the World Series since I was seven years old.

Campbell was wrong for not bypassing three points on two separate occasions, but he probably knows that today.

What is truly devastating is how hard it is just to get to a conference championship game. It was Detroit’s first appearance in over three decades.

Will the Lions get back there again in the near future? If they do, will they find a way to finally claim a conference title and a berth in the biggest game in American sports?

I sure hope so, for the sake of the fans.

Sports memories, both good and horrible, stay with you forever.

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