by | Feb 25, 2009 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Charles Woodson had an injured toe Sunday, and some questioned whether he would play. But Woodson said there was no way – no way! – he was missing a game here. Can you blame him?

I mean, who would miss a chance at the Lions?

On a Sunday that would sum up an awful lot of Detroit Sundays, on a day that Jon Kitna would throw three interceptions on three straight possessions, in a fourth quarter where the Lions would actually have a one-point lead with six minutes left – AND STILL LOSE BY 23! – Woodson not only played, he wound up with two picks and a touchdown, proving when you go against the Lions, you go home with souvenirs.

Honestly, this franchise should rename itself “Disneyland.” It guarantees a magical time. Last week, it handed a record day to Atlanta’s Michael Turner, a career backup rusher. On Sunday, it gave quarterback Aaron (“I’m No Brett”) Rodgers the best game of his NFL life, receiver Greg Jennings a career-high 167 yards, and Woodson further proof that when it comes to opponents, Ford Field is Lourdes.

(By the way, Woodson and Jennings went to college in this state. So never let it be said we don’t take care of our own.)

The problem is the Lions are not here to make other teams shine. But they’re just so good at it. Kitna’s ill-timed interceptions

Case in point was Sunday, when they managed to make a game out of a mockery, only to make a mockery out of the game. They came all the way back from a 21-0 deficit to pull ahead, 25-24. The fans actually were behind them.

“They were as loud as they’ve ever been, in life, since I’ve been here,” Roy Williams gushed.

I’m not sure what that means. But he was right.

And then, whumpf. How’s about a little fire, scarecrow? The Lions’ defense quickly allowed a 60-yard pass to Jennings, followed by a Packers field goal, followed by a fast Kitna interception, followed by a Packers TD, followed by gloom, doom, despair, pestilence, frogs, blood, locusts …

Even for the Lions, this was a colossal collapse. Three Green Bay touchdowns in 84 seconds?

“It’s all on me,” Kitna said.

No it isn’t. OK. A lot of it is. You can’t throw an interception during a fourth-quarter comeback. Or two interceptions, or three.

But while the city will no doubt jump all over Kitna, just remember. He didn’t give up 21 points in the first 23 minutes. That was the wonderful Detroit defense, supposedly Rod Marinelli’s specialty, which features a secondary that is so inept, it should be called thirdary.

Cornerback Brian Kelly and safety Dwight Smith made particularly costly errors, falling, failing to bump or being out of position. Both are former Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which seems to count nowhere except in Marinelli’s mind, where it is akin to sainthood.

Listen, Rod. I once bought a tank top in Tampa. It worked down there. But I wouldn’t wear up here in the winter.

That was then, you know? A couple of highlights

Marinelli got a bit testy after the 48-25 loss when a reporter asked about his 10-24 record, his 0-2 mark this season and a timetable for winning.

“I’m not gonna give you a magic wand,” Marinelli said. “You want that, go home and take one.”

I think he’s confusing wands with aspirin. But two of those wouldn’t hurt, either.

Yes, there were moments of promise (two Calvin Johnson touchdowns) and moments of improvement (the run defense was not the tissue paper of last week). But good moments don’t make victories any more than good sentences make a book. Atlanta was a lousy team, and the Lions made it look great. The Packers are a young team, but the Lions made them look like cagey veterans.

The season is already on the brink. So either this franchise finds the men and the attitude that will start and finish a winning effort, or it starts charging for the opponents’ self-esteem.

Lord knows the fans have paid for theirs.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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