27 January 2012
Roar of the Lions hosts the Lions Congregation, a weekly roundtable featuring those of us in the Lions blogosphere answering questions supplied by both Joshua (aka DetFan1979) and readers of the congregation. If all goes well, the Q & A goes live every Friday evening.
This week: The Lions Congregation pick their favorite game and plays of the 2011 season. Mine are as follows...
What was your favorite game of the season to watch?
I could say it was the win over the Chiefs, as I suddenly realized I was watching a playoff contender destroy a 2010 playoff team. I was tempted to say the victory over the Broncos in Denver, just because of the destruction of TEBOW. I could go with one of the ridiculous comeback wins over the Vikings, Cowboys, Panthers and Raiders, and it wouldn't raise anyone's eyebrows.
But I have to go with the victory over the Chargers, for one reason only. The win clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years (though it felt more like 12 decades). The Lions were at home, the offense was clicking, Matthew Stafford was playing the elite QB we all hoped he'd become, the defense had been playing better (for a couple of weeks, anyway) and no one wanted to see them have to win in Green Bay in order to make the playoffs. So going into the game it just felt as if the result was fait accompli. The Lions were going to win. No doubt about it.
Despite the Chargers having a talented team, the game wasn't really in question. The Lions beat the Bolts 38-10, and the team got to celebrate with a formerly suffering, now deliriously happy, fan base. All was well in the world for a few hours.
You cannot ask from more than that from a victory.
What were your 3 favorite plays of the season?
3. Late in the Chargers win, Cliff Avril picked off Phillip Rivers and strolled into the end zone from 4 yards out for spectacular pick 6. The leaping, one-handed interception set off a huge celebration, as the score essentially cliched a playoff spot.
2. My favorite offensive play of the season was Calvin Johnson catching a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford with 39 seconds left against the Raiders, finishing off a beyond clutch 98-yard drive. The hopes and dreams of a playoff season were on the line, and the Lions came through in a way we couldn't have imagined a few years ago. All I could do was channel Vin Scully and say, "I can't believe what I just saw!"
1. This is my favorite play of the season, period. The Lions are in Oakland, up by one with under 0:20 left. The Raiders are driving, kicker Sebastian Janikowski is warming up his All-Pro leg on the sidelines. Carson Palmer drops back to pass, and every fan on the planet thinks the Raiders will drive deep enough into Lions' territory to give Janikowski a very reasonable shot at a game winning field goal. In Jankowski's case, anything within 55 yards can be considered reasonable.
But Avril roars in from left end, drops an axe handle on the quarterback (nearly forcing a fumble) and sacks Palmer with 0:13 on the clock. The Raiders run one more play (an incomplete sideline pass) and ultimately settle for a 65 yard field goal attempt, which Ndamukong Suh blocks. Lions win, have a 9-5 record and get an inside track on a playoff spot!
If Avril doesn't sack Palmer, all sort of bad things happen. Janikowski is likely trying a kick that's at least 10 yards shorter. He doesn't have to drill the ball low to get max distance, making it that much harder to block. With that in mind, odds are he makes the kick, beating the Lions. How does the season plays out if the Lions don't win the game? I'm thinking the season just may have ended badly.
But it didn't, much in thanks Avril's game saving sack.
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