With the Lions down 10, and just seven-plus minutes remaining in the game, I all but wrote the Lions off when Schwartz opted to punt on 4th down with the Lions in Dolphins territory. The Dolphins fans I was watching the game with in Florida were starting to feel good about themselves at this point, which seemed like the real kiss of death considering they spent the better portion of the game assuring me that the Dolphins would find a way to lose. Although I thought "don't even start with me on knowing your team will find a way to lose," it was comforting for once to hear the opposing fans talk like I normally would during the course of a Lions game.
However, somehow, the Lions managed a defensive stop following the inconceivable punt, only losing a couple minutes and one FOX Christmas light bulb signifying the timeouts. The Dolphins fans started to recant on their short-lived confidence and nervously began reassuring me again that the Dolphins would indeed find a way to lose. I, of course, being the seasoned Lions fan that I am, expected one of only three things to happen: 1) a three-and-out, which would consist of two failed runs and an incomplete pass; 2) interception; or 3) a lost fumble after a hope-generating gain. These three negative thoughts are almost permanently ingrained in my mind and often serve as the only options to choose from.
A 53-yard touchdown pass to Jahvid Best obviously wasn't a choice.
Feelings of optimism don't subsist often, but those from last week's win in Tampa Bay started to worm their way back; I was suddenly (and delusionally) certain the Lions would actually find a way to do something they haven't done three times in a row in three years and twice in a row on the road in six -- WIN!
The clock suggested there was only 4:37 left in the game, but it felt like a lifetime for the Lions to get another stop and drive down the field to score a game-winning touchdown. Not in all of the Bobby Layne cursed years would I've thought the Lions defense would come up with two interceptions, the second of which was taken to the house by DeAndre Levy to take a 34-27 lead.
As it turned out, Levy's interception returned for a touchdown actually gave the Dolphins enough time to drive and score a TD to send the game into overtime (assuming the Dolphins didn't pull a typical Lions moment and miss the game-tying extra point). With 30 MPH winds gusting in Miami, overtime seemed like a perfect time for the Lions to win the toss, opt for the wind and lose, like another typical Lions moment. For once, in as many years as I can remember, though, I surprised myself by not thinking, "the Lions will find a way to lose this game." Again, that's what the Dolphins fans were telling me about their own team, and it all seemed so incredibly ass-backwards.
I didn't complain and let the new feeling soak in. I took a smug sip from my libation and watched the mostly cynical Dolphins fans reluctantly hold on to a molecule-thin string of hope as Henne marched the Miami offense down to the Lions' 28-yard line. Then, when Henne inexplicably threw a screen pass to his running back in the middle of the field with less than 30 seconds remaining and no Christmas light bulbs remaining, their hope expired with the seconds on the clock. I couldn't believe I wasn't shocked.
"I told you they'd find a way to lose; the Dolphins are the new Lions," a Dolphins fan sadly boasted.
I understand what he meant--the Lions are renowned for finding ways to lose--but "the new Lions" appear to have discovered how to win.