Lions kicked in teeth again
Lions drop another close game in national spotlight, possibly costing coach Schwartz his job
DETROIT – Lions coach Jim Schwartz will never forget Baltimore Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker.
Not because of the game-winning 61-yard field Tucker made against the Lions in the Ravens' 18-16 victory at Ford Field on Monday night.
It's because that kick will probably cost Schwartz his gig after the season if -- no doubt some fans are saying when -- the Lions fail to make the playoffs.
It's like deja vu all over again. It was a 54-yard game-winning kick by the Chicago Bears' Paul Edinger on Dec. 24, 2000 that changed this franchise forever. It made the Ford Family clean house, firing the coaching staff and the front office.
It created the Matt Millen Era, one of the worst times in this organization's history. Stay tuned. History appears that it will repeat itself.
It seems almost impossible this time around because just a few weeks ago, it was a foregone conclusion they were postseason-bound.
After all, the Lions were 6-3. Plus, their division rivals both had their star quarterbacks injured -- Bears' Jay Cutler and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.
In fact, overzealous Lions fans were burning up sports-talk radio, talking about the Lions winning 11-12 games with ease.
It was supposed to be a piece a cake, a layup even a fourth-grader could make.
Enter a national TV audience. Enter a game the Lions had to win after both Chicago and Green Bay both won on Sunday. Enter pressure playing the defending Super Bowl champs, the Ravens, in a must-win for them, too.
This was supposed to finally be the big game the Lions win, shake off years of losing and let fans know the division is theirs.
It was S.O.L. Same Ol' Lions. Another disappointing loss fans won't soon forget.
Schwartz brushed off the question of whether he was given any assurances from ownership about his job.
"We have two games," said Schwartz, whose team has now lost four of its last five games. "The only thing we need to worry about, that's the only thing we need to concern ourselves with right now."
The Lions know they blew a golden opportunity. Did we mention the Ravens had won just one road game all season before this game?
It matches when the Lions let lowly Tampa Bay come into town a few weeks ago and beat them as well.
"We're 7-7 now," Lions center Dominic Raiola said. "We have to move forward, we have to bounce back. Yeah, this one hurts."
Mostly because the Lions gave up their own destiny. Their playoff hopes are no longer in their hands.
In fact, if the Bears and Packers both win on Sunday, the Lions are out of the playoffs. Period. End of story.
"It's something you don't want to do," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw three interceptions and now had 13 INTs and two fumbles in the last seven games. "But you have to move forward from it and go try to win the next two."
The New York Giants are in next Sunday after getting shutout in their last game. Then the season ends in Minnesota, in the final game in the Metrodome.
On paper, both look like cupcakes. But nothing is as easy as it looks for the Lions. The deathly-silent locker room was proof after this latest debacle.
"Our emotions are important right now," Schwartz said. "This is a setback, no question, because like you said, we did control our destiny until tonight."
The Lions' defense allowed just field goals, although six of them.
The offense, after the first drive, was almost nonexistent until Stafford hit Joseph Fauria with a 14-yard TD strike to give the Lions a 16-15 lead with 2:21 left.
Then came that field goal to remember. Not for the distance, but for the damage it did.
Just like Edinger 13 years ago.
"No, it doesn't sting anymore," Stafford said. "We were ready for the national stage."
It sure didn't look like it. The turnovers that have plagued this team were present and accounted for. Stafford had three interceptions, including the one that sealed the loss with 30 seconds to go.
"There were a couple of scoring opportunities that we weren't able to take advantage of because of turnovers," Schwartz said.
Ultimately, it will cost Schwartz.
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