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Monday, December 21, 2009
Third and one: Lions

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After Detroit’s 31-24 loss to Arizona, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. For Detroit, the silver lining of Week 15 was that both Tampa Bay and Cleveland won. As John Niyo of the Detroit News points out, that leaves the Lions tied with the Buccaneers for the No. 2 overall pick in this still-unsettled 2010 draft order. As we’ve discussed, the NFL breaks such ties in reverse order of strength of schedule. At this point, the Lions have a big edge in that category and thus would have the second pick if the season ended today. With St. Louis possibly looking for a quarterback at No. 1 overall, the Lions would have a decent chance at landing Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at No. 2. Stay tuned.
  2. I’ve never been one to jump on the Drew Stanton bandwagon, but I think we’ve seen enough of Daunte Culpepper this season. Stanton didn’t play perfectly in the second half Sunday, but he inserted a missing element of energy into the Lions’ offense. He’s a bit unorthodox and undisciplined, but I would like to see what he might do over the final two games. It’s possible that starter Matthew Stafford (shoulder) will be ready to play this week, but if not, there’s no reason not to start Stanton. The Lions have given Culpepper an adequate amount of time to show off his arm to opposing scouts.
  3. I continue to love just about everything when it comes to rookie safety Louis Delmas, especially now that he’s gone a game without being called for an unnecessary roughness penalty. His 100-yard return of a Kurt Warner interception is the kind of game-changing big play I can rarely remember seeing from the Lions in this decade. And I liked his postgame “interview” with reporters just as much. Delmas was apparently livid with the loss and in no mood to discuss his touchdown. As far as I’m concerned, that’s awesome. It means Delmas hasn’t been “Lionized.” He hasn’t been sucked into the culture of losing.
And here is one question I’m still asking:

Why did the Lions hand the ball to fullback Jerome Felton on fourth-and-1 at the Cardinals’ 8-yard line with 9 minutes, 41 seconds left to play? I was all for the decision to go for a first down rather than kick a field goal, and I realize the Lions are trying to find out if Felton can be their “big back.” But didn’t Maurice Morris have the hotter hand? Maybe the Lions thought Felton would have a better chance of moving the pile 1 yard on his own. But he went to the ground on first contact. Morris had a better chance of bouncing the play. But look at the bright side: It’s not often we’re debating significant in-game decisions for the Lions.