So, is Matthew Stafford four points better than Shaun Hill? You’d like to think so.
Stafford, the Lions’ franchise, sat in the coaches’ box at Ford Field Sunday, his ear hooked up to some sort of a gizmo, and he looked down below at the game that broke out midway through the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sadly, he was as useful as the late Bobby Layne, the man whose high school Stafford attended in Texas.
Stafford’s injured right wing was up in the nose bleeds of the coaches’ box, absolutely of no use to the Lions, who tried mightily to mount a monumental comeback against the Eagles—trailing 35-17 then, in a flash, getting within 35-32 and with the football after recovering an onside kick.
Less than two minutes remained. The Lions had the ball on their own 43—about 25-30 yards away from legitimate field goal range.
Layne would have been licking his chops.
They say ole Bobby never lost a game—time just ran out on him.
That may be so, but time didn’t run out on Hill—he just couldn’t pull off the heist. Four straight incompletions after the onside kick, the Lions were toast and 0-2, but not as bad an 0-2 as they’ve been recently.
Could Stafford have done it? Could the second-year kid have somehow marched his team the necessary yards to give Jason Hanson a shot at tying the game?
Hell, could Stafford have gone one better, and actually led the Lions to a game-winning touchdown?
That’s what they’re asking today, around the water cooler and on Twitter and that’s what the topic will be on the afternoon drive time radio shows and into the evening.
What would Matthew have done?
Hill, the gutsy backup who has 1/10th the flash of Stafford, 5/10th of Stafford’s talent but 10/10th of the fight, threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions—one in the end zone—and when the stage was the biggest, Shaun didn’t run out of time, he ran out of answers, and completed passes.
Make no mistake—the Eagles were reeling. They lost on Opening Sunday and their season flashed before their eyes. A ghoulish Lions comeback was looming. A nasty plane ride back to Philadelphia awaited them. Philly sports talk radio was about to blow up.
The onside kick recovered by the Lions made things awfully uncomfortable for the Eagles. Two Lions TDs and 15 points weren’t lovely, but you recover the onside kick and the game is over.
The onside-kicked football hit the Eagles player in the numbers, but the operating word is “hit”, not “caught.” The Lions pounced on it. Never was momentum, that overused sports word, any bigger.
Oh, to be able to see Stafford in such a situation! That’s what the Lions drafted him for—to seize that sort of an opportunity and be the hero. You win enough of those kinds of games and they start saving a spot for you in Canton.
But Stafford was in a Lions t-shirt and several stories up from the field, where the players down below look like electric football guys.
It was Hill who would have to somehow nudge the Lions the needed yards for a field goal try.
Nothing really came close to materializing. Hill’s passes weren’t all that close to being completed, and what had moments before been a potential league-wide drama unfolding, suddenly turned into another exodus of Lions fans to the exits. If Ford Field was a balloon, it would have been flitting around in the air aimlessly, its air let out.
Bobby Layne wouldn’t have thrown four straight INCs. And maybe not even Stafford would have, even though Hill has been in the league longer.
It’s tempting to look at the final moments of yesterday’s Lions game and declare that the injured Stafford would have led the team to glory.
And, screwy as it may seem, that’s progress, folks.
It’s progress in Detroit to believe that your starting QB would have pulled off a stunning comeback.
Ever since the miracle against Cleveland last November, Stafford has believers. But he has to keep doing it to legitimize the faith shown in him.
The other question they’re asking today is, “Barry Who?”
OK, maybe not to that extreme, but this kid Jahvid Best is something else. All he seems to do is score touchdowns, which is a pretty nice feature to have if you’re a football player.
Best, when given some daylight, ran through, around, and by the Eagles like a video game football player. It was a remarkable bounce back from his 14-carry, 20-yard performance of a week ago.
The Lions have scored six TDs and Best has five of them. He turned a simple screen into a 75-yard touchdown romp, and when was the last time a Lions RB pulled that off?
I think you know the answer to that loaded question.
The Lions are 0-2, but have been outscored by just eight points, total. It’s not as odiferous of an 0-2 as we’ve seen in the past.
But Shaun Hill isn’t Bobby Layne, and he’s not even close to being Matthew Stafford, frankly. Hill is a serviceable backup who is absolutely better than the No. 2 guys the Lions have paraded through town in recent years.
That’s progress, too.