Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Day Special Edition

“Put a bow on it, Merry Christmas! Touchdown, DETROIT LIONS!!”
Lions 38, Chargers 10

I apologize for a lack of a pregame entry, but holiday traveling and last minute shopping made such a feat unmanageable for me to pull off before toe met leather this afternoon. I thought about taking the holiday break off from Bromothymoling entirely, but thought better of it. As Pops Ruettiger tells his son Rudy, “There’s no special days around here.” Although I disagree, seeing as today was certainly a special day worth squawking about for the DTLs franchise.

I have to think that any churchgoing Michiganders opted to hold out until the late service this evening in order to soak in this late afternoon contest in its entirety. After all, for the first time since Y2K almost happened, the squad was set to play a meaningful late December home game with a playoff spot in their sights. Loyal H-Bromolyte Nitch was so worked up for the game that he sent me a Facebook post counting down the minutes until the pregame warmups were to start at Ford Field. Since landing back in Michigan this week for the Winter holidays, there was a tangible buzz of cautious excitement from a weary fan base wondering if this time their team was for real, or if yet another crushing disappointment was waiting for them to close out this season that has been bizarre even by Lions’ standards. Readers who are fans of other, more traditionally successful teams (I can think of my friend in Boston as an example of this) probably can’t comprehend why we’re so worked up about something as menial as a lousy playoff berth. Fans of the L.A. Clippers, recently ordained “the New Cool Team of the NBA”, may understand somewhat, but as far as I know, the only Clipper fans on the planet are Will Ferrell’s unfunny character in the movie “Bewitched”, and the recent wash of bandwagoners hopping on board last week after the Ahh Chreese trade. It is different in Detroit, where sports are so indispensably embedded within the culture and collective psyche of the city and state. So, in the final home game of a roller coaster of a season that finally had the Lions on the upswing rather than in Power Tower free fall mode, it was a foregone conclusion that the fans were going to show up with an influenzic intensity once 4 o’clock rolled around today.

As I would have mentioned had I put out a pregame post, this game was anything but a sure thing going into it. The visiting Chargers had been playing well and were on the verge of pulling off yet another improbable late season power surge. Before today’s game, over the last 6 years, the Chargers were an electric 25-2 during the month of December, bolstered by two consecutive impressive wins leading up to this week. And I haven’t yet been able to wipe from my memory what happened the last time these two teams had met, in 2007. San Diego rolled to a 51-14 win in an ugly game that reached FGs status very early in the third quarter (refer to my second ever post for a refresher on the criteria for an “FGs game”).  The ESPN experts were on the fence as to who to pick for this one as well, though “Cartoon Chris” Berman picked the Lions to break the tie amongst the panel members. The one thing they agreed upon was that Detroit could not afford to fall behind early in this one, as Chargers are a very difficult team to play catch-up against. In the spirit of Christmas (the getting presents part of it; not the lesser known aspect of the holiday, the birth of Timmy Tebow’s Lord and savior, which coincidentally is also celebrated on Christmas), I put together a wish list before today’s game. Though Santa couldn’t deliver on all of my wishes, most of them were fulfilled by today’s 38-10 thrashing of San Diego.


Put a smile on Grinch Hanson’s face
Over the past few days, The Best in the Business had likened himself to Grinch Christmas, leading to this bizarre artistic rendering.  He had to at least smile a little bit after blasting a 50-yard field goal straight through the posts in the first quarter. After today’s win, I have a feeling that the little Bromos in Bromothymolville even let Mr. Hanson carve the roast beast at the team’s postgame Christmas party.

Shock the Chargers
Even though he was only sacked once, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers didn’t look for a moment appear comfortable back there today. “Uncle Phil”, as Rivers prefers to be called, looked so shaky in the pocket, one would have thought that he must have been electrocuted to skeleton level in the pregame huddle, a la Marv Merchins in Home Alone 2.

In their best start-to-finish game of the season, the DTLs pummeled San Diego immediately, from Staff’s bomb to Calvin on the first play from scrimmage, to the 24-0 halftime lead, and straight to Heathcliff’s one-handed pick six of a poor Uncle Phil effort in the game’s final minutes.

A Miracle on 44th Street
This one didn’t quite come true. I was hoping that Jahvid Best’s season-ending concussion would magically heal itself in the hours leading up to the game, so we’d all be able to watch him dance into the end zones like a Sugar Plum Fairy. Fortunately, understudy Kevin Smith once again valiantly filled the void at running back, dancing in for 2 touchdowns of his own.

No Holey Night in the Lions’ Secondary
After a poor performance against the Raiders last week, I wasn’t sure that the defensive backs would be able to patch up all the holes against Uncle Phil and Co. I was pleasantly surprised to see a great game from the secondary today. Spievey and the Ahh Chreeses (Houston and Harris) all had strong games today to shut down the Chargers. I’ve noticed that the ups and downs that this unit has seem to especially hinge on their confidence levels, so I hope the confidence gained from today’s game will be able to carry over into the playoffs (Playoffs. It feels good to say it).

Party Like it’s 1999
Ford Field was rocking today, Coach Jimmy got a Gatorade bath to commemorate what is hopefully the first of many 10-win seasons as DTLs’ skipper, and the players took a victory lap following the game to celebrate the first playoff berth in twelve years with the fans. Stafford was spectacular once again, with a 29-36, 373 yard, 3 touchdown showcase. Wormtail Pettigrew brought his hands with him to the game today, coming up with big catch after big catch. After Rog Goodell put a lump of coal in his stomping stocking a month ago, Dommy Suh looks under control. Redemption story of the season Kevin Smith once again channeled the John Starks essence of a man who is absolutely thrilled to be back in the league, and will do anything and everything that is necessary to keep his spot on the team. I could go on and on. This was a team performance, setting off a long awaited and much deserved celebration for the Lions and their city.

Another thrilling aspect for me about today’s game was that this was the one and only game this season that I was able to watch in Michigan with Pops (who finally accepted the slow and painful degeneration of the old idiot box and popped a brand new 46-inch screen into the living since I last saw him).

Happy Holidays Everyone!  Santa left us a shiny new playoff berth under the tree tonight!

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