My schedule was yanking and twisting over the last several days to seemingly set me up, magically, for the 9:30 AM ET wake up call that was the scheduled start time for the Lions in London. I woke up at 5:30, had a few Heinekens, and settled in.
It was a beautiful day in Michigan, not a cloud in the sky, really. The weather was decent in England, too (around sixty). It was a sellout crowd of over 80,000 snarfs at Wembley Stadium. Laura Wright came out in this sexy dress and brought us all to tears with, “God Save the Queen:”
We were ready for some football.
The Falcons received the opening kickoff. Unfortunately, they took the ball the length of the field for a touchdown. We weren’t putting any pressure on Matt Ryan, who looked like “The Helmet” character in Spaceballs. I just can’t respect a snarf who doesn’t fit in his jersey AND is that obnoxious at the line of scrimmage. Look at Peyton: that head fills a helmet up.
It was kind of a first half nightmare. The offense came out sharp but stalled thanks to a penalty. Devin Hester returned the punt nearly to midfield. Before the first quarter could end, it was 14-0. WTF? Matt Ryan still hadn’t been hit.
It just wasn’t right, that first quarter. We fumbled the ball on our first play the next possession, and luckily Joique Bell fell on it. We found some momentum in a new quarter, getting the ball to the Falcon 37. Instead of trying a deep field goal, Coach Caldwell elected to punt. It was windy at the outdoor Wimbley.
Nick Fairley left the game on the next drive when Ndamukong Suh landed awkwardly on his leg. We can only hope it isn’t serious, but Fairley left the field on a stretcher. The Falcons went three and out, and then we followed suit.
On their next possession, Atlanta was intercepted in the end zone, and Detroit returned it all the way to the house. Tragically, it was called back on a bull shit penalty. From what I’ve read from the Brits, this specific play started to turn the crowd. Technically, it was a home game for the Falcons, but nobody really gave a fuck. They scored a cheap touchdown to go up 21-0.
Matthew Stafford was intercepted just before the half while driving into their territory. We were down to the 35-yard line when his receiver fell down. Suffice to say, it was a suicide watch at halftime.
As oldschool and I prepared for the second half, I felt like we had to sack Ryan. It was strange to not see our defensive line bust loose. The Lion offense came out much better, working their way down the field to put our first points on the board, albeit a field goal. Then, the defense got that sack. Jason Jones, who knew what it was like to miss time with an injury last year, came through and also forced a fumble that they barely held onto. Ryan was rattled. The Falcons punted AND NEVER LOOKED THE SAME.
Stafford started hitting his backs out of the backfield. Only penalties could stop the Lions. It was 3rd-and-25 when our quarterback woke everyone in England up, rifling a sixty-yard bomb to Golden Tate for the touchdown. Just like that: 21, 10. Back in it. With that deserving pass, Stafford became the Detroit Lions’ all-time leader in passing touchdowns over the legend Bobby Layne. He surpassed the Lions great in passing yards last season.
Atlanta was going nowhere, sacked by Suh on a 2nd-and-16, until a truly bad call gave them new life. The Lions defense gritted their teeth, bending but not breaking. Finally, Ryan tossed a terrible pass under pressure that we picked off and returned to the seven yard line. The crowd at Wembley was turning.
We stopped running the ball and couldn’t punch in the touchdown, but a field goal kept us within a score, 21-13.
Now into the final quarter, Atlanta stayed scared under Ryan and stalled. After marching back into Falcon territory, Stafford found #10 (Fuller) on a crucial third down. He stayed composed, leading us all the way into the end zone for a smooth six. Tate was held on the two-point conversion, but the refs stayed silent. 21-19, less than four minutes left.
This is where it really got dicey. The Falcons converted two first downs, forcing Detroit to burn all three of their timeouts. We were all in with under two minutes to go, facing a second down. Atlanta ran it, but they also committed offensive holding – stopping the clock. Now, they felt the need to pass, and Julio Jones dropped it. They gave us our shot, punting back to our seven yard line with 1:38 to play.
Backup Kellen Moore reminded Stafford Dallas had given him the same extra time last season with a penalty. First play: Stafford zings one to Tate for thirty yards. Amazing. Next play: Theo Riddick bobbles the catch before pulling it in for another twenty yards. Spike. Under one minute, Stafford finds Jeremy Ross for another ten yards. Spike.
Now, it gets really confusing. We elected to run the ball and set up the field goal. However, with no timeouts, this was tricky. On 3rd-and-nine with 25 seconds to go, we ran the ball! Apparently, we were going to try and secure position instead of clock and would have forced our field goal unit to run out onto the field in twenty seconds. WTF? BUT – the Falcons committed another holding penalty, forcing the clock to stop and setting us up with another first down.
Unbelievable. The Lions dream comeback was one kick away. From 43 yards with four seconds left, Matt Prater… missed it wide right. My heart sank in unacceptance, then a flag emerged. “Delay of game, reset the kick from the 48.” Upon replay, I noticed the wind had pushed his kick. This time, Prater aimed more to his left, and the wind took the kick just inside the uprights:
WE FUCKING DID IT! The Lions rushed the field in walk-off fashion, making fans in London, Europe, and all over the world all at once. Down 21-0, Detroit did the impossible, scoring 22 unanswered points to win in historic fashion at the buzzer.