Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene.
Lions suffer another infamous defeat to add to the collection.
YOU. HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING. ME.
That was probably the reaction of most Lions fans following a 19-17 loss to Baltimore on Sunday, except the words were probably a lot less clean.
But for a franchise that seemed to have patented every way to lose in its history, this was yet another sorry chapter.
It was bad enough that for the second time in franchise history, the Lions saw an opposing kicker set an NFL record by converting a game-winning kick as time expired.
After Tom Dempsey of New Orleans did so with a then-record 63-yard boot in 1970, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker did better than that, making a 66-yard field goal as time expired to shock the Lions.
Even more eerie was that the final score in both instances was 19-17.
It was a whole new level of defeat for the Lions, and it cut even deeper when you consider these things:
- Tucker’s kick hit the crossbar, and instead of bouncing back, it bounced over it.
- The play before Tucker’s kick, the Ravens appeared to snap the ball after the play clock expired. Of course, the officials missed it and didn’t give the Ravens what would’ve been a 5-yard penalty, forcing Baltimore to throw a Hail Mary instead of attempting the field goal.
- Two plays before Tucker’s kick, the Lions allowed Baltimore to convert a fourth-and-19 on a 36-yard pass, despite having eight guys in coverage. The Lions didn’t apply any pressure to Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson and then left Baltimore wideout Sammy Watkins wide open.
All in all, it added up to more misery for a Lions fan base that’s seen one playoff win since 1957.
Alarm bells for U-M?
Michigan’s defense was strong and the offense churned out lots of running yards in the first half against Rutgers, which was good enough to push the Wolverines to a 20-13 win and a 4-0 start.
But the second half might have produced some troubling signs.
U-M was outscored 10-0 in the half and had numerous three-and-outs on offense, which led to some boos from the crowd and calls for starting quarterback Cade McNamara to be benched.
Now, the Wolverines have reached the first crucial measuring stick of their season, a road game against increasingly vulnerable Wisconsin on Saturday.
Special teams save MSU.
One look at the final stats from Michigan State’s game with Nebraska and one would rightfully wonder how on earth the Spartans won.
Nebraska outgained MSU, 442-254, the Spartans had no first downs and 14 total yards of offense in the second half, and allowed Nebraska to convert seven third-down attempts.
But thanks to poor special teams play by Nebraska, most notably awful coverage of an equally awful punt that led to Jayden Reed’s game-tying 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and then an interception in overtime, the Spartans survived and are now 4-0.