And Detroit fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
After 17 weeks of underachievement, miscues and disappointment, the 2012 season will be over for the Detroit Lions.
And not a moment too soon.
This game that airs Sunday at 1:05p.m. on Fox is the last one that Lions faithful will be forced to endure until next season rolls around.
At 4-11, the Lions have only pride and draft picks to play for. Detroit has already sealed up a top-seven pick, but a loss would ensure them drafting in the top five. A loss combined with wins from Oakland and Philadelphia gives Detroit the third overall pick in the 2013 draft.
A Detroit loss would also result in a league-worst eight game losing streak that would linger in the minds of fans and players alike for quite some time. A loss and a Philly win would put Detroit alone at the bottom of the NFC.
As fans, players and coaches try desperately to figure out why this team has fallen to such lows, there are at least two players who have something to play for. Wideout Calvin Johnson has already broken the single-season receiving record and now takes aim at his next goal: 2,000 yards. He now stands at 1,892; just 108 yards shy of a milestone many thought was unachievable.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford also eyes a single-season record, albeit not one as remarkable as Johnson’s. Stafford needs to throw only seven passes to pass Drew Bledsoe’s record of 691 attempts. In addition to that, 305 yards on Sunday will make Stafford the only man to ever throw for 5,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden has downplayed Stafford and Johnson’s accomplishments this season, deeming them tainted because the Lions are always throwing in an effort to come from behind.
Why then, Jon, is Dwayne Bowe 1,200 yards shy of 2,000? His team is 2-13 and didn’t hold a lead until the season was more than half over. How come Carson Palmer or Cam Newton isn’t chasing the same records that Stafford is? The Raiders and Panthers have combined for only 24 wins in the last two seasons (10 this season).
Let me clear this up for you, Gruden. The reason those guys aren’t going for the same records as Stafford and Megatron is because they aren’t as good. This QB-WR combo is one of the best, if not the best in the league. I won’t say that Stafford is as good as Rodgers or Manning (the good one) or Brees, but at 24 years old, he is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in franchise history.
True, I’ll miss watching Stafford-to-Johnson when the season is over; it’s been a spectacle to watch those two this year. I will not, however, miss watching Stafford-to-DB. I won’t miss watching Gosder Cherilus false start. I won’t miss watching Jim Schwartz’s hot-headedness get his team into trouble. Nor will I miss seeing the Lions choke games away at the buzzer. I won’t miss the secondary, I won’t miss Louis Delmas’ knee, and I certainly won’t miss Nick Harris and Stefan Logan. What a special teams unit.
Most of all, what I miss right now is the Detroit Red Wings.
Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny
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