by | Sep 21, 1987 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

LOS ANGELES — OK. We give. Bring on the strike. Please. We’re begging.

It can’t be much worse than this: a 27-7 drubbing by a Raiders team whose only similarity to the great Raiders teams is that Al Davis still signs the checks. No matter. The Lions lost by 20. They have blown two games they could have won, if only they’d done one simple thing:


Well. OK. So it’s a big simple thing.

It shouldn’t be that hard. Not when you move within the other team’s 30. The Lions did that six times Sunday. They scored once. That’s not what folks here call “maximizing your potential.”

“One of these days we’re going to get down to that end zone and put five straight in,” said Chuck Long afterward. Yeah. Well. One of these days, there’ll be a K mart on the moon. You want to win now? You gotta score now. Maybe the Lions should stay here for a California assertiveness-training seminar. “This is the opponent’s goal line,” the guru would say. “STEP ON IT!”

Did you watch this game Sunday? Or did you have something better to do, like clean the fish tank? The Lions shot the first half with two interceptions and a missed field goal. They opened the second half by fumbling the kickoff. Intensity? The whole thing was played like the last five minutes of school before summer vacation.

When Long wasn’t looking pretty good (21-for-35) he was looking pretty bad
(two interceptions, three near-misses). When the defense wasn’t allowing third-down conversions (seven- of-15) the offense was blowing them
(two-of-10) Three times, kicker Eddie Murray saw a ball snapped for a field-goal attempt. Not once did he see it go between the uprights. Two misses and a partial block.

“We should be beating somebody to death in the first half,” William Gay said afterward.

They are. Themselves.They’re singing a familiar song

This is the second week in the two-week-old season that Detroit grabbed the gun, loaded the bullets, then handed it back to the other team. The Raiders were certainly beatable Sunday. Even by the Lions. It would all be terribly agonizing, if it wasn’t so terribly familiar.

“What is it?” someone asked fullback James Jones — between questions about the impending players strike. “What is it about this team that seems to prevent victory?”

Jones said: “We screwed up again.”

Well. Credit him for bluntness. In fact, most of the Lions are now this candid. They seem as tired of giving excuses as the fans are of hearing them. There is nothing secret about poorly thrown passes, short-yardage plays that don’t convert, a secondary that can make Rusty Hilger look like a decent quarterback. Rusty Hilger? Geez.

“Hell, no, we didn’t have the right concentration,” Gay said. “It’s obvious.”

“We blew opportunities,” Long said.

“We screwed up,” Jones repeated. “We keep finding a way to screw up, and we have to break out of that screwing-up mold.”

Could you say it any better? And yet saying it is not enough. Where is the football team beneath all this mish-mash? There is clearly talent here. That’s what’s so bothersome. You’ll see Chuck Long squirm from the grasp of a lineman to throw a perfect strike — and the next play is an interception. The defense will control a star like Marcus Allen (79 yards on 22 carries), yet surrender a 35-yard run to Vance Mueller. On third-and-one.

Mistakes will be overshadowed sometimes by high scoring. If you have high scoring. As the players trudged off the field Sunday, fans here chanted, “NO STRIKE! NO STRIKE!” in apparent displeasure over the players’ union.

Then again, they might have been talking about the Lions’ offense.It’s time to go to work

And what about the strike? It looms for Tuesday, and, let’s be honest, it may be just as well. Who looks forward to the Chicago Bears at the Silverdome Sunday? It’s no fun showing up for a game knowing what’s going to happen, at least if that what is losing.

“It’s one thing after another,” Darryl Rogers said in his post-game press gathering. It’s hard not to feel for Rogers. He reminds you of a schoolteacher who just can’t get the class’s attention. And yet that is his job.

“We have a lot of young players,” he said, “and young players will make the kind of mistakes we’ve been making.”

Fine. Here is a suggestion. Go on strike. Then get all the Lions together and spend every spare minute in secret practice. It may be the only way they can get competitive this season.

“What are your impressions of the Lions?” someone asked LA’s star lineman, Howie Long.

“Oh, I’m sure they’re a good team,” he cooed, “they just got off to a rough start.”

Get lost, Howie.


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