It was only one game. It was only one game. It was only one game. This is the thought that has been running through my head since Monday Night Football. But, the next one that has begun to creep in is even more haunting: was it only one game?
New head coach Matt Patricia had one job since he was hired, and that job was to get the Lions ready for their first game of the season against the lowly New York Jets. A team that struggled to five wins last season, and was starting a rookie quarterback to begin this year. A home game being featured on Monday Night Football. Easy game to start the season, eh? Yeah, right.
When the game began, Lions Nation was completely hyped up about the return of football. Months of preparations finally coming to fruition. The defense took the field first, meaning that the biggest question mark on the team (defense in general) was going to get the first crack at making some plays. In the moment, what happened next was incredible. But realistically may have been the worst thing that possibly could have happened.
A pick-six. Quandre Diggs intercepted the first pass of Sam Darnold‘s professional career, and returned it to the house. On the very first play of the season. 7-0 Detroit. The crowd at Ford Field hit fever pitch, and there was an incredible sense of “maybe we can actually do this” that spread throughout my body. Sadly, the defense was done making big plays the rest of the evening.
The third quarter was when it got ugly. Possibly as ugly as one single game could get. New York outscored Detroit 31-7 in that third quarter. Let that sink in. They scored four touchdowns, and kicked a field goal in that quarter alone.
Matthew Stafford never made us believe in this game that he was going to be capable of leading another one of his comebacks. Maybe that was because he was too busy getting annihilated by the Jets defense all game, but it just never happened. The run defense was just as porous as some had said it could be, and it seemed like everything had completely fallen apart.
I don’t want to dwell on it anymore. I want to look forward to the team’s next chance to prove that what we saw on Monday is not who they are. I’m trying to come around to that idea. When I see Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers on the schedule this weekend, I’m not scared. I remember how I felt about this team before the season began, and it gives me hope that they can still live up to what we hoped. But, it sits right there in the back of my head: “What if it happens again?” If this team makes the trip out to the west coast and gets train wrecked again, I don’t know if it will be able to get it back on track. The 49ers took the Minnesota Vikings right down to the last drive on Sunday before ultimately losing. So yes, both teams have an 0-1 record going into this game. But, their games on Sunday were completely different from one another.
The national media has been all over Patricia and the Lions since their Monday Night debacle. Whether it be the fact that Patricia was shown on the sidelines with the traditional Lions head coach “glazed over” look, or the fact that very little went right for the team on Monday. Let’s hope that the team uses this as motivation.
I desperately want to be the guy who can say that the “same old Lions” aren’t a thing anymore. You have no idea how bad I want to be that guy, actually. But, those hopes and aspirations are put on hold until at least this Sunday when the team has another chance to prove themselves.