The Lions have not been in this situation in the 21st century. We are familiar with disappointing losses amid disappointing seasons. Very rarely have we experienced a loss like this.
At one point in time, the Lions had a stranglehold on this game. Up 24-7 at halftime, the Lions had dominated the first half and looked primed for the big stage in two weeks time. Instead, the team collapsed in gut-wrenching fashion, failing to score a point until the dying moments of the game. All the hope from this successful season was snuffed out.
Another offseason lies ahead. The Lions bear new crowns—NFC North winners, playoff winners—but at the moment, it does little to ease the woe from this loss.
For the final time this season, let’s examine some takeaways.
It may have been an exciting season full of growth from these Lions, but it ends the same way: looking toward the next season. This will sting all offseason, especially with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson potentially leaving for a head coaching gig—and taking some assistant coaches with him to boot. It’s optimistic to say that the Lions will be here again, and the pieces are certainly there, but there will continue to be that lingering doubt that this was all we get: a season full of emotion ending in misery.
I genuinely hope that this is just the beginning for these Lions. If anything, I am disappointed with how it ended. The Lions had the victory and a Super Bowl appearance in their grasp. Coming so close and failing feels just as bad as never reaching this point in the first place. Yet that is also something for personal growth. No longer should playing .500 football be the benchmark for the Lions. This is the brightest the Lions have been in decades. Wallowing in the gloom will achieve little, and it does a disservice to the season that was. We should be happy and proud of what was achieved, even if the ending is bittersweet.
Embarrassing in the national spotlight
Most of the nation was supporting a Detroit Lions Super Bowl appearance, especially in the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs booking their ticket earlier in the day. For one, it would have meant a fresh face in the big dance. It also had the billing of an exciting matchup, a rematch of the season opener. The NFL season started with Lions versus Chiefs and it could have ended with Lions versus Chiefs.
Instead, the Lions collapsed in historic and embarrassing fashion. This Lions team won’t be remembered nationally for their breakthrough season. They will instead be known for blowing one of the largest halftime leads in conference championship history. For a franchise that has fought incredibly hard to remove the stain of the previous regime’s struggles, it certainly puts a damper on things. The Lions had a chance to truly cement themselves as a respectable threat in the eyes of the national media and they blew it. This team is young enough and talented enough to return to this point, but until such a time, the Lions will have their doubters and critics.
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