by | Oct 9, 2001 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Well, gee. It was nice of the Rams to drop by and make us feel better.

As if being at war isn’t bad enough, the St. Louis football juggernaut had to invade the Silverdome on Monday night and wreak havoc on our increasingly hapless home team. Dear Lord, is there no mercy?

It was ugly. It was embarrassing. I won’t use the word “demoralizing,” but by the third quarter, Detroit fans were flipping to war coverage for a sense of hope.

Remember, this was a “must” game for the Lions. So they looked musty.

In fact, by the end of the night, Detroit had surrendered 35 points and scored zero — its first shutout in eight years — although the Lions did try two quarterbacks, who produced two interceptions. Ty Detmer threw one to kill a great drive in the second quarter. Charlie Batch threw one to kill a great drive in the third quarter.

Well. They say you need consistency at the quarterback position.

“We could not get it done,” coach Marty Mornhinweg said.

He forgot to add the words “soon enough.”

Of course it would help to be moving in the right direction.

Which is a specialty for the Rams, especially when Kurt Warner is clicking. Was he clicking Monday night? Does the word “castanets” mean anything to you?

With Warner — the quickest draw in the Midwest — the Rams against the Lions was the Globetrotters against the Generals. The ball moved faster than the eye, receivers sidestepped defenders, they scored as easily as water goes down the drain, and before you could swallow, they were doing it again.

At one point, Warner, who would throw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, actually called 17 straight pass plays. I was waiting for him to try one behind his back.

This is how strong the Rams were against Detroit: Marshall Faulk, the NFL’s reigning MVP, carried the ball only twice in the first half.

As we say in the Motor City, why put on the mileage?

Quarterback situation is mystery

OK. In a moment, we can return to standing back and admiring the Rams’ brilliance, which is what the Lions’ defensive backs seemed to be doing much of the night.

But first, a word about the Lions’ quarterback situation:


What exactly is Mornhinweg thinking? He benches Batch after the season opener because Batch throws one bad interception and can’t seem to get the West Coast offense.

Then he stays with Detmer after he throws SEVEN interceptions because, supposedly, deep down, Detmer GETS the West Coast offense.

Then, Monday night, after Detmer actually has the team moving in the West Coast style — short passes, quick hits — Mornhinweg switches back to Batch at halftime.

I don’t want to be unkind to our new coach, but I don’t want him running my mutual fund.

The saddest part is, both Batch and Detmer completed a huge percentage of passes — and still couldn’t score! As to who starts Sunday against Minnesota, your guess is as good as mine. Batch didn’t help his case with a fumble and a broken-route interception. But Detmer — whose second-quarter interception off his back foot was returned 93 yards for a touchdown — fell victim to the same bad decision-making that sank him in his last game.

So I give up. Who starts? Who plays?

A more sobering question: Would it make a difference?

Come on, drop the puck!

The Lions are 0-3, and it feels like 0-6. They knew what they had to do to beat the Rams on Monday night: Convert third downs and keep the Rams from doing the same.

Instead, time after time, the Lions faltered when possession was on the line. Detmer got pounded with a sack on third down. Cory Schlesinger was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-one. Batch, on a third down near the Rams’ goal line, was pummeled and coughed up the ball, and the only reason it didn’t wind up as a touchdown was that some Rams offensive players, obviously eager to get back to the hotel, ran on the field while their defensive teammate Grant Wistrom was chugging toward the end zone.

That was the best thing that happened to Detroit all night.

“Here’s where we’re at,” Mornhinweg said. “Zero points. That’s where we’re at.”

Hmm. Hard to argue with that.

Forget the Monday miracles. Forget rising to the occasion.

The Lions, in the Central Division basement, seem as dazed and confused as ever. The only moment of relief came when the fans, those who were left, gathered all their remaining civic pride, and joined together in one last thundering cheer:


Can we end the season now?

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or Catch “Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760) and simulcast on MSNBC 3-5 p.m.


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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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