This summer, we're looking closer at what went right and wrong during the 2012 Detroit Lions season. In the coming weeks, we'll count down the top 10 plays which made a difference in the team's performance and record last season. Today, we begin things with an examination of number 8.
In looking back at what went wrong for the 2012 Detroit Lions, the word fumble comes to mind several times. Earlier in the year (and this countdown) Joique Bell's dropped ball cost the team in Chicago. Later on in December, though, a fumble against the Green Bay Packers would loom even larger.
Famously, the Lions haven't won against the Packers in Wisconsin since 1991. In the time in between, there's been a vortex of bizarre events which have doomed the Lions within the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Everything from poor starts to botched finishes have cost the team and left fans shaking their heads by the end of games for the better part of two decades.
During 2012's edition, however, the Lions were finally the team getting off to the fast start they needed on the road. Putting together two solid drives which kept the Packers off balance, the Lions managed to score the game's first 14 points, and Green Bay only got three points on the scoreboard thanks to a silly celebration penalty by Tony Scheffler. On the next series in the second quarter, though, Detroit's dominating dynamic completely changed.
While driving for what could have been a game-defining score, Matthew Stafford drifted backward and simply dropped the football around midfield in the midst of a sack. Mike Daniels picked up the ball and ran it home for the Packer touchdown. In the blink of an eye, the score was 14-10 instead of 21-3 or even 17-3. Momentum had officially shifted.
From then on, the Lions looked as if they had submitted completely to Murphy's Law. Everything went wrong that could go wrong the rest of the night, including a defense which had confused Green Bay getting gouged, the offense failing to mount another meaningful drive and special teams giving up chunks of hidden yardage.
As far as frustration goes, this loss on Sunday Night Football had to feel like the worst of the season. The Lions had remarkable, early control of a road game against a solid team until one mistake completely cost them. Then, worst of all, the team completely gave up instead of pushing through their adversity. It was quite possibly the most "Lions-like" loss of last year.
Not even halfway through the countdown, the theme of ball security is emerging as paramount for 2013. If Stafford simply hangs onto the ball, the Lions might have won and erased plenty of painful history in Wisconsin at the same time.
Instead, thanks to one untimely fumble, everyone was left shaking their heads and looking for answers after another snowy, whiteout loss at Lambeau Field.
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