PHILADELPHIA — LeSean McCoy went dashing through the snow, past Nick and Louis and DeAndre and Ndamukong and Dancer and Prancer and Donner and Blitzen. He hit winter pay dirt, again and again, as the Lions, in embarrassing fashion, lost the giant slalom competition.
Er, football game.
I think it was a football game. At first I couldn’t see much besides a sheet of snow and some bodies slipping around. It was like watching through a shaken snow globe. A sudden winter storm dumped a fast three inches on Lincoln Financial Field, and the Lions and Eagles saw their important 13th game of the season reduced to the Sarajevo Olympics.
But, as Matthew Stafford would put it, “everybody was playing in the same snow” — even though, come the fourth quarter, it didn’t look like it. Suddenly the Eagles were running on white Astroturf, while the Lions were as unsteady as the Tahitian ski team. Detroit gave up 28 points in less than 13 minutes, and lost a game it shouldn’t have lost — for not the first time this season — thanks to countless mistakes, ineffectual offense and a sudden case of doing badly what they actually are noted for doing well: stopping the run.
The Lions gave up an Eagles franchise-record 217 rushing yards to McCoy alone, including touchdown bursts of 57 and 40 yards. They fell apart so badly in the second half, even a Fox announcer exclaimed, “This is why they’re so infuriating.”
Wow. Who knew Lionitis was contagious?
Collapse? What collapse?
“Don’t blame the offense, don’t blame the defense,” said a grim Joique Bell after the 34-20 loss. “There’s no way we can go in the red zone twice and I cough it up twice. … Put that game on me, on my shoulders. … I can’t put my team in that predicament.”
Wow. Joique. All we can say is …
You can’t do that. Bell’s two early fumbles — on the Philly 20 and 10 — killed two long drives, and kept the Lions from squashing Philadelphia early in the storm, when the Eagles looked like babies trying to walk to grandma.
Instead, the Lions’ unproductive offense (sorely missing an injured Reggie Bush) kept the score close. And in the second half, the Eagles put on snowshoes and righted themselves. Suddenly, McCoy was bursting through the line, and DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper were beating the Detroit secondary and somebody named Chris Polk broke free for a 32-yard touchdown and I think I saw Franz Klammer ski over the Lions’ heads.
“Any loss is a bitter loss,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “We’ll come back next week excited for Monday night to play the Ravens.”
Well. They have to come back. They get paid to come back. But I wish Schwartz would be more openly critical of what is clearly a collapse. How is it that Philadelphia made adjustments at halftime and was so much better after it? Where were the Detroit adjustments? How does Cooper end up with more yards than — and as many catches as — Calvin Johnson, on a day when height and speed should be paramount? Why is it that time after time, dumb penalties — the Lions had nine, the Eagles had one — cost Detroit momentum and field position? When does that stop?
Such things are on the coaching staff. This team has too much talent to be winning one, losing one, winning one, losing one.
Even in the snow.
Packers, Bears won’t go away
“It was indescribable,” said Lions special teams man Jeremy Ross of the early conditions. “You’ve got snow coming down in your face, you can hardly see, the faster you run, the more snow hits your face, so you can’t really open your eyes. … You’re, like, squinting the whole time.”
Which, come to think of it, is how many Lions fans watch the games.
Ross was the lone bright spot Sunday, returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns, making defenders wobble like Adrian skating with Rocky at the ice rink. But let’s face it. Ross aside, this Lions-rooting is a trying process. They get a foothold on the division, then start handing it back. At 7-6, they hold a slim edge on Green Bay (but Aaron Rodgers might be coming back) while Chicago has a home game tonight and could tie Detroit (although the Lions have the tiebreaker).
It’s not easy. It’s like running on snow. Or trying to throw in it. Stafford had five fumbled snaps, losing the most costly one with the score 28-20 and the Lions driving late to tie it.
“We gotta do a better job of holding onto it,” he said.
He was talking about the ball.
He could have been talking about the season.