Edson: Lions Always Find A Way To Torture Us
Merely by accident – I swear it was an accident – I turned on my GPS Sunday evening and typed in the name Matt Patricia.
Suddenly, I was getting the brain waves of the Detroit Lions head coach beamed back to me from Arizona, where the Lions had a comfortable 24-6 lead in the fourth quarter of their season opener.
My TV screen showed Patricia with no expression on his face – the same look he learned from his mentor, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichik.
But my GPS brain wave machine was sending different signals – what Patricia was REALLY thinking.
“Let’s see, we’re up 24-6… there has to be a way we can still screw this up,” came the message from his brain.
Fast forward a few minutes and the Lions were faced with a crucial third down situation with 2:42 left. As quarterback Matt Stafford was barking out the signals, Patricia was gripped with fear.
“Oh no, we’ve called the perfect play,” his brain barked out.
Sure enough, Stafford had three wide receiver split to the right and a backup running back beside him. As the ball was snapped, the three receivers drove their defenders inside. The running back raced out to fill their space and no one cover him. Stafford lobbed an easy pass to him and the Lions had the first down.
Game. Set. Match. (This was the same night as the U.S. Open tennis final, remember).
But hold on. The play didn’t count.
Matt Patricia smiled to himself.
“I almost didn’t call that timeout in time,” he thought to himself.
Instead of a first down, the Lions took a timeout to devise a play that would fail.
A few seconds later, the Arizona Cardinals blocked a punt. Then they drove down the field to score a touchdown and narrow the Lions lead to 24-22.
Patricia called for his prevent defense… a defense to prevent his team from winning.
“And sure enough, it worked again,” he thought to himself after the Cardinals converted the point after and tied the game 24-24.
Minutes later, the game went into overtime. It ended 27-27.
Patricia had done the impossible. He had helped the Lions blow a 24-6 lead and settle for a 27-27 tie.
Give Matt Stafford credit. He blew up after the coaches called a timeout and the next play failed. He knew who was to blame.
And now – because I came clean about my honest mistake with my GPS – you know who to blame to.
But the truth is, I didn’t even have to tell you.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.