While it may surprise many that the Detroit Lions dropped from being a playoff squad to a four-win team in 2012, the manner in which they did it should not.
Handshake-gate, where Jim Schwartz blew up, followed an incredible game against the San Francisco 49ers. The rally in Dallas provided another of many reasons why this team was wildly entertaining in both victory and defeat in 2011, and even more of this came in 2012 — though much, much more on the losing side this time. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson would get their garbage yards and drag Detroit back into many a contest last season, but defenses found a way to clamp down on the two more often when it counted.
NFL Network’s Elliott Harrison is rattling off a series looking back on the 20 most-entertaining regular season games of 2012. Though the top five has yet to be revealed, the list already includes three Lions losses: hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 15 (No. 15), hosting the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving (No. 13) and at Tennessee Titans on Sept. 24 (No. 11).
Harrison perfectly captures why Detroit games were so entertaining in his take on the Lions-Titans contest, outside of the absurd talents of Stafford and Megatron: “What constitutes a great game? Is it big-time stakes, like a championship of some sort? A showcase of premier players playing at an insane level? Or does an instant classic draw its allure from the classic nature of its matchup? Well, in the case of our No. 11 Game of 2012, none of those factors were present.”
Obviously, the Lions weren’t very good. But there was an incredible knack for chucking their way back into contests they had no business being in — Stafford breaking the single-season attempts record — before realizing the climb was too high in the end.