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Monday, November 28, 2005  

So, right, Thanksgiving Day football.

The first thing I saw when we got out of the car in the parking lot in Detroit (after wiping away the reflexive tears from the shock of the excruciating cold that day) was this magnificent bit of graffiti. I should have known right then that it was a sign which would presage the entire game: Hang the Ds! Bring hate! EGGS (and the fact that this game would suck them). I don't know about loving Jen, but sure, throw it in there if you like.

We had the traditional Thanksgiving Day lunch at Plaka's in Greektown (greasealicious!) and then skittered, frozenly, down to the stadium. It was well below freezing walking in, and much colder on the way back after the game, both because it was later and the sun was starting to go down, and because we no longer had anything like the hope of a Lions victory to bring us fuzzy internal warmth. My fingers actually started to burn inside my gloves on the way back, and I had to clench them into fists to try to keep them from getting frostbitten, that's how cold it was after the game. Insult to injury, and all that.

But anyways, we got to the stadium, blissfully ignoring the portent of the EGGS. Every year we get some bit of Lions-themed cheaply produced joy at the gates... for a long time it was a printed towel, which I quite liked, and last year it was a car flag, which I don't much like, because it's really only good for whacking people with. This year we got pennants.

After we got to our seats, I handed my pennant off to my mother so I could more freely operate The Awesometastical Camera Which Equals Love. My mother poked at the end of the pennant, and remarked that when she was a kid, they used to give you a stick with the pennant, so you could stick it in the sleeve on the end and wave it about (presumably this was at Dolphins games, that being my mother's upbringing), but they don't give out sticks these days, because people would poke each other with them and it would be a liability issue. Let me just say that if anyone had been poking eyes out with pennant sticks during this game, it would have been an act of great mercy.

I'll admit it: I thought we were going to lose from the outset. Now, obviously I hoped we were going to win, but I've started to think Michael Vick was overrated so many times, only to have him completely obliterate any such thoughts with a disgustingly impressive performance directly thereafter, that I just can't doubt him on a regular basis anymore. Can't do it. We had a shred of hope, because he had been banged up a bit in the previous game, and everyone was on short rest, so maybe he wouldn't be in top form.

He was in top form. He was very much in top form, alas. It seemed like every time we actually, miracle of miracles, managed to cover all his receivers, he would just take a little hopskip and be 5 or 10 yards down the field under his own power.

Which is what Michael Vick does, pretty much, but on TV it somehow looks more normal, perhaps because the camera's usually in on him close, and you can see him check down and scramble out. From the upper deck of Ford Field it was more like, hey, great view of the entire field, can really see the play spread out and develop, OK, everyone's lined up, here we go, look at the receivers break, where's the ball, oh, uh, wow, Vick just went out of bounds with enough yardage for a first down. Again.

Very early in the game someone (I'm pretty sure it was TJ Duckett; I would look it up and check but really I don't think I could stomach looking at the cold hard stats from this game, even briefly) on the Falcons scored a touchdown. The few Falcons fans in the upper deck stood up and whooped, and all the Lions fans grumbled darkly and settled into their head-holding positions for the day, all except for one gentleman in Lions gear in the front row of the upper deck, who leapt up, hands in the air, and screamed, "Yeeeeeaaaahhh! ALRIGHT! Duckett's on my fantasy team!"

That was about all the joy a Lions fan was going to get out of this game.

The quarterback situation... ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Look, Joey should not have been taken out as early as he was. He threw one interception and Mooch pulls him, because Mooch has grown from a man who wanted his QB to take the mold of his favorite pet offensive scheme into a man who realizes that his QB will never be perfectly suited for his pet offensive scheme, and from that it was a natural progression into a man who has a deep and irrational hatred of one Joey Harrington, which of course leads to Joey getting taken out of games he has no business being taken out of.

One interception, and it wasn't even his fault. Roy Williams misjudged (or forgot, whichever) the proper route. I'm not even kidding, after the play Roy chased down Joey on the sidelines to try to apologize to him. Sorry for the slight and immensely annoying lack of focus... but it's not bad for a shot from the upper deck, of the opposite sideline, for a camera with no telephoto lens, I reckon.

Jeff Garcia was terrible. Simply terrible. He had that one pass where the ball went straight up into the air, and everyone on the face of the earth just assumed it had been tipped, because that's the only way a ball flies out of a quarterbacks hand like that, you know? Only apparently TV replays showed that no one touched him. He just threw the ball straight up towards the ceiling all on his own. Holy freaking cats, to put it mildly.

And then he had that pass to the Falcons defensive player... that bomb down the field where the Falcon actually stopped in his route, turned around, and took the ball in his numbers exactly like he had been a properly positioned Lion receiver. It was one of those plays where you just sit there with your mouth hanging open a little bit, because you literally are incapable of believing what you just saw.

At the very end of the game, Dan Orlovsky got into the action, drawing what was by far the loudest cheer of the day from the crowd. He would go on to fumble the ball, but at that point most the stadium was empty anyways, and those left were in that happy state of mind where things like fumbles just don't matter anymore, and are indeed things to be giggled manically at.

The halftime show sucked, as every United Way Halftime Show in the history of the universe has done. Mariah Carey was the 'entertainment', and she was carted up to the stage on an absurdly large divan chair thing, borne by a bunch of guys in Lions jerseys. At the time, unable to see that far, I half thought that they were actual Lions players who, having nothing better to do with their lives during this game, had offered to be part of the Mariah carrying crew. Closer perusal after loading in the photos showed that they were all wearing #88 jerseys, and so were unlikely to be actual players. It does beg the question of why they were all wearing Mike Williams' jersey, though. Is Mariah an especially big fan of his or something?

After the hilarious divan-carrying, the show frittered away into its usual banality, with the usual flag choreography, and the usual annoyingly high-backed stage that only half the stadium can see, and the usual ill-advised pyrotechnics that fill the stadium with smoke and make everyone cough a little for a quarter, until it thins out. They do this every year, you would think someone would have cottoned onto the fact that it's a really bad idea by this point, but apparently not. Oh, and don't ask me what the giant floating ball bearings are, I haven't a clue.

The second half was as unremarkable as the first. We did score one single solitary touchdown, saving us from the utter ignominy of a shutout, but that one touchdown was on a ball that was bobbled, then tipped directly and accidentally back into Roy Williams' hands in the endzone. In other words, we didn't even really earn the one bloody touchdown we got, and by the time we scored it the Falcons had already put up so many points that it was more an 'Ah well, at least we won't be shut out' sort of thing than a 'Yaaaay touchdown!' sort of thing.

Things heard in the crowd:

-"Put in the Burger King guy!" (from those ads, you know. It certainly couldn't have hurt)
-"We've had it, we're leaving and spending the rest of the afternoon in the casino." (heard by our friends, who were sitting several rows in front of us. This was what the people behind them said as they were leaving)
-"You suck, Mooch!" (screamed numerous times, by my dad. The guy in front of him clapped every time my dad yelled it)
-"If that was a bag of pot he woulda caught it!" (after Charles Rogers dropped a pass)

I'm sure there was more, but it's about that time of night right now where I can barely remember how to type, let alone what people were screaming at the sad product on the field several days ago.

Best moment of the game, other than Orlovsky's sparse but definitely standing O, was something that I only saw in highlights on TV after the fact. Apparently at one point Rory, the Lions mascot, was lying prostrate on the ground, the only way he could display his sadness and woe with his immovable facial features. A play happened near him, and Casey Fitzsimmons took exception to Rory's depression. So he chucked the ball at Rory's head. Where it bounced off of Rory's snout. Which is, pretty much, awesome.

Let us see, what else. There was this fine moment, where Mooch challenged a Falcons touchdown and got it taken back, only to have the Falcons incontrovertibly score on the very next play.

There was Joey looking really sad on the sidelines, making me dislike Mooch even more.

There was the usual Michael Vick/Jim Mora Jr. love affair. However, there were also stretchy Falcons, which brought out the 5 year old bit of my brain and was a welcome momentary distraction from the pain.

There's really not much else to say. You can see all the photos here, which I encourage you to do, because it's about the only thing I got out of that game. Well, that and the pennant.

At least, last year, Peyton Manning was 'signing our melons' as soon as he thrust his fat audibiling head onto the field. This game was almost (almost) worse, because we really did have chances, if we hadn't had such utter shit play calling and if our guys had been able to do simple things like throw the ball straight, or catch the ball, or hit the opposing players. Plus, I hate Manning, while I have a respect for Vick and usually quite like him (i.e. when we're not playing him).

Oh, and did I mention the black jerseys? Because that was really just the icing on the cake.

4:09 AM

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