Friday, January 10, 2014
Ten plays that shaped Lions season -- No. 6
By Michael Rothstein
Over the next two weeks, we will look at 10 critical plays that shaped the Detroit Lions' season in one way or another.
Not all of them will be bad and certainly, with the way the Lions cratered to a 7-9 finish, will not all be good. And some may be have just been fantastic plays.
And as always when it comes to these sorts of lists, this is subjective and are plays, for good or bad, that stuck out to me when I made this list. Agree or disagree vehemently, let’s chat about it. Oh, and we’ll be going in reverse order from 10 to 1.
Past plays: No. 10 -- PI in Arizona; No. 9 -- Reggie Bush’s screen vs. Minnesota; No. 8 -- Calvin Johnson gets the drops; No. 7 -- Jeremy Ross’ snow-covered return.
Today, we present Play No. 6 (No. 5 will come Monday)
When: Dec. 22, 2013
Where: Ford Field, as part of a 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants, eliminating the Lions from playoff contention.
What happened: The Lions were leading, 20-13, with five minutes left in the home finale against New York when Matthew Stafford dropped back to pass and rolled to the right and threw an out route to tight end Joseph Fauria. It hit off of Fauria’s diving hands and bounced right to the Giants’ Will Hill, who returned the interception 38 yards for a touchdown, eventually tying the game and completely changing the momentum for Detroit.
What they said about it: Stafford: “Just tipped off his hands, I guess.”
Hill: “I just saw the ball take off in the air and just took advantage of the situation in Cover 4. I was overseeing three players and once I saw the ball tip off his hands, I just saw daylight.”
How the Lions’ season was impacted: There were other Stafford interceptions that could have been chosen for this spot -- the one to seal the loss against Tampa Bay being the other one considered. But this interception, in a game the Lions had to win to stay alive for the playoffs, in the fourth quarter deep in his own territory, was the one that stood out the most. It was also emblematic of many of the issues Stafford had the second half of the season. It had a deflection off Fauria, having to extend to make a play on the ball. And it fell right into Hill’s hands, who had an unobstructed path to the end zone. The only player who could have stopped him was Stafford and he couldn’t.