Professional football plays no favorites, abides by no accounting other than what is deserved. It’s the ultimate reap-what-you-sow sport.
There are 120 or so snaps in a typical NFL game, and every one of them plays a role in the outcome.
This isn’t baseball, where the sins of errors and leaving men on base can be atoned by one swing of the bat in the bottom of the ninth.
This isn’t hockey, where a fluke deflection of the puck off the skate of a goalie’s own teammate can end up in the net for the winning tally.
And this isn’t basketball, where the heroics of one superstar can overcome the combined efforts of five opposing men.
This is pro football, and you get what you deserve—good or bad. Contrary to what some believe, luck doesn’t play much of a factor at all.
NFL games are 60 minutes, 120+ snaps of who can make the best plays at the most opportune times. It’s like taking a college entrance exam of 120 questions, where any of the questions can be used at random for or against you, to determine whether you qualify.
There is an accounting in pro football, and that accounting is as impartial as a tornado.
You decide your own fate in the NFL, week after week. You can point as many fingers as you want, but the sport forces you to look into the mirror every Sunday after the final gun goes off.
Lions quarterback Shaun Hill, his gut wrenched in the wake of another defeat, tried an end-around against one of pro football’s hard and fast rules as he spoke to the media yesterday in Green Bay following his team’s 28-26 loss to the Packers.
“We deserved that win,” Hill said. “We deserved to get the feeling of that win.”
I feel Hill’s pain, but he’s as wrong as the day is long.
I firmly believe that every team that wins or loses an NFL game deserves what it got, every week.
In fact, you could even say that more NFL games are lost than are ever won, and I wouldn’t give you much of an argument.
The Lions lost to the Packers, and that’s what they deserved, Shaun Hill’s emotional plea notwithstanding.
The Packers won because, when they needed it most, their mostly unproductive offense rammed the football down the Lions’ throats to eat up the final six-and-a-half minutes of the game.
The Lions lost because they committed penalties, dropped passes, threw interceptions, and kicked field goals instead of extra points.
It was, perhaps, a game lost rather than a game won.
But it was, indefatigably, what the Lions deserved. The Packers, too.
The Lions’ players, to a man, believe they’re getting better. They believe they’re getting closer to winning football games. They “should be 3-1, 2-2 at the least,” according to LB Julian Peterson.
The players bemoan their mistakes, yet make them week after week. They speak of things “you just can’t do” on the football field, but go ahead and do them anyway.
“It’s on me.”
“That was my fault.”
“I can’t let that happen.”
“We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
“We self-destructed. We beat ourselves.”
Those are quotes from football players every week in half of the locker rooms in the NFL. They’ve been quotes of Lions players after 41 of the past 44 games.
And those quotes underline my hypothesis—that the losing pro football team gets exactly what it deserves.
Yeah, I know the Lions got jobbed in Week One in Chicago. But were they truly the better football team that day?
The Lions contained the Packers’ offense for almost the entire second half yesterday—except for the final 6:23 of the game, which just happened to be the most crucial 6:23 of the afternoon.
Just prior to that, the Lions had the ball on the Packers’ 37 but elected to punt instead of trying a 54, 55-yard field goal to nudge ahead, 29-28.
The Lions never touched the ball after that cowardly decision.
The final score was exactly what they deserved, statistics be damned.
That’s the NFL–a league whose games are the ultimate pass/fail course.