Mikel Leshoure missed the first two games of the year due to suspension. He ended today’s game with more rushing yards than Chris Johnson.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
I didn’t get to watch a ton of today’s game because I told my friend Don that I was “all in” on the Red Zone channel today. I expected that the Lions would move up and down the field with ease, and in that regard I was not disappointed. I saw a fumble on a bad exchange by Locker and thought “oh crap”. The Titans held the Lions to two early field goals.
Thanks to the glory that is the Red Zone, I saw the “touchdown throwback II” pass from Darius Reynaud to Tommie Campbell on a punt (no Bills fans thought that one was a forward pass) that scored the Titans’ first touchdown and the Keystone Cops defense on the long pass to Jared Cook helped the Titans score 20 in a row. The Titans scored 20 in a row? The Titans had a lead for the first time in two weeks? Dumbfounding.
The Lions made it all right by scoring 24 points of their own to make the score 27-20 in the fourth quarter. Everything was as it was supposed to be. Locker would throw an interception and the Lions would assert their dominance.
Darius Reynaud took the ensuing kickoff back 105 yards. Last week Lavelle Hawkins took the kick return job from Reynaud and I wondered if he would keep his roster spot. Reynaud was the shock of the preseason in earning a spot on the team, helped in part by a tragic ankle injury by Marc Mariani. Reynaud and Campbell proved their worth with big special-teams plays.
But still, the amazing Lions attack and the amazing penchant for the Titans defense to give up yards and points. The next highlight I saw was one of the plays of the year. Nate Washington caught a Locker bomb off Jacob Lacey’s jersey for the touchdown. That was three 60-yard-plus touchdowns, and naturally none of them were from 27, going on 37, Chris Johnson.
I finally got the good Don to change the channel. The Lions drove down the field like there was no defense. Tight ends have been crushing the Titans and when Brandon Pettigrew caught a pass inside the 30, I wasn’t surprised. When Alterraun Verner grabbed the ball out of his hands and scooted down the sideline for what in most universes is a game-clinching score, I was a bit gobsmacked.
We went back to Red Zone and I thought a win was at hand. I didn’t know what the cruel hand of fate had in store for me. I wondered why Shaun Hill was in the game but assumed that the team was saving Stafford. In the end zone where my parents sit, I watched Verner make what should have been the game-clinching interception. Roughing thepasser turned it around. Calvin Johnson scored with 18 seconds left.
Did I mention Keystone Cops before? That describes the Titans’ onside kick coverage team. The onside kick went to a Lion in stride and luckily NFL rules prohibit a team from advancing an onside kick, otherwise the Lions would have scored on that play.
I really thought that Nate Burleson fumbled on the following play. He caught the ball, turned, and the ball came out. Incomplete. All that was left was a Hail Mary.
How often does a team practice defending the Hail Mary? I assume not often. There were a lot of Titan defenders in position. Akeen Ayers tipped the ball as you are taught to and it went directly into Titus Young (Sr. on the back of the jersey? Have we gotten to the bottom of this?) who fell into the end zone. The Lions could have snuck their offense on the field for a two-point sneak and the Titans probably would have let it go.
Overtime beckoned. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. the new overtime rules and their ups and downs would come into play. Locker hit every pass he needed to and Chris Johnson lost eight yards on both carries. Craig Stevens made a great third-down catch and got hammered, drawing a penalty. The catch was reversed even though the ball never got close to the ground. On fourth and two the Titans kicked, which usually would have been the end of the game. It was the new NFL overtime, and the Lions would get one more chance.
One “upside” of getting the ball after the other team kicked a field goal was that you get four downs. That’s a bit of a competitive advantage. The Lions didn’t necessarily need it as they drove down the field again without much of a problem. On a third down play, Mikel Leshoure caught a pass and fell just short of a first down. It made sense for the Lions to go for it. They lined up and Shaun Hill took the snap. He bobbled the ball, Jurrell Casey came in and blew it up. Jim Schwartz later said that the Lions were only trying to draw the Titans offside. As I tweeted, they should have left the center in on the plan.
I can’t wait to watch this one on NFL Replay. Sorry ’bout that, Ty.