The Lions won 48-3. Honestly, had they been playing a team that wasn’t freefalling into the abyss, they might have lost. Okay, okay, I know that sounds a little ridiculous, but I think that it’s true. I’m not trying to be a total buzzkill here and I will carry on drinking the blood of Matt Cassel and feasting on the witless tears of Todd Haley along with all the rest of you in a moment, but I think that has to be said before we all get carried away. This was a weird game. For long stretches the Lions looked out of sync, both offensively and defensively. I thought they largely played like shit for most of the first half and yet they went into the locker room up 20-3. Well, okay then. The second half was an absolute circus. Kansas City apparently thought the ball was possessed and gave it away to anyone who came near, apparently in the hopes that their souls would not be harvested by the demons within. They were, of course, wrong, since the Lions both took the ball and then took their souls anyway. So much for that plan, Todd Haley. Possessed balls and soul-taking aside, this game was filled with penalties, guys getting their shirts ripped off, Ndamukong Suh and Tony Scheffler dancing, and I’m pretty sure I even saw a clown or two on fire at one point. Hell, Roary mortally wounded Jamaal Charles. It was strange and vaguely stupid and in the end it was all wonderful. Because even though the Lions looked out of sync, in the end they were able to sit back and watch while the Failure Demons spun around and devoured another team full of woeful misfits and that may be the single greatest sign that things have finally changed around here.
Finally – finally – the Lions aren’t on the other end of that shit. Sure, the Lions weren’t sharp but that didn’t matter. They were just the better team. And by that I don’t just mean that they were more skilled – even though, in the end, that became obvious – but because they stayed calm and just kept coming and kept coming and kept coming while the Chiefs eventually self-destructed. You see, sometimes it’s not even about beating the other guy, it’s just about waiting until he beats himself and the Lions are finally in a position, finally good enough, where they can do exactly that. Matthew Stafford was inaccurate for a lot of the game. The Chiefs were able to run the ball in the first quarter. There was a point when the game could have reasonably swung in either direction, but throughout it all, I think there was a sense that the whole thing was just a giant time bomb waiting to go off. For both sides too, not just the Lions. Throughout it all, I had the sense that the Lions could easily blow it open as long as Stafford could hit some of those third down completions and as long as the Lions could just stuff the Chiefs running game once or twice and force them to try to air it out. Done, and . . . done. And once those two things were accomplished, the Lions were on a rocket ride to a planet filled with candy, blowjobs and candy blowjobs. On the other hand, even when the game was close, there always seemed to be the sense that the Chiefs would fall apart, that the Failure Demons would reach up with those terrible claws we’re all too familiar with and drag them down to hell with them and then that would be that. And . . . done. Once both of those scenarios played out – once the natural order of the universe was restored (and how strange is it that the universe seems to have so been radically reordered that I can reasonably make this statement?) – obscene things happened. Todd Haley began making faces on the sideline usually only seen in the darkest wings of mental hospitals, Matt Cassel put a shotgun beneath his chin and pulled the trigger and I’m pretty sure I saw Roary on the sideline gnawing on what was left of Jamaal Charles’ leg.
And, really, that’s the key here. Even though the Lions didn’t play particularly well for long stretches of this game, they demolished the Chiefs precisely because, deep down, they are now a good team whereas the Chiefs most definitely are not. That contrast – and the realization that the Lions are indeed now a legitimately good team – couldn’t have been played out more clearly than it did today. The Lions made mistakes but it didn’t matter and it didn’t matter because they were simply . . . better.
That doesn’t mean that The Fear still wasn’t running wild through my heart while I was watching. A part of me – and I suspect a part of many of you – was afraid that the Lions little mistakes would come back to haunt them and we’d all be weeping and tearing our hair out following the Chiefs 34-31 come from behind victory, but that is a product of old thinking. We have been conditioned for so long to expect the worst that when the Lions aren’t perfect we believe that it will cost them everything. In a strange way, success doesn’t mean perfection. It simply means the ability to overcome your own mistakes, your own flaws. And the Lions did that, overwhelmingly. Ridiculously, and perhaps I should add, shamefully, The Fear actually crept back in the more out of control the game became. Not because I was worried about the outcome of this game – I am not that crippled for fuck’s sake – but because I began to fret and worry that the runaway joke that this game had become would somehow make the Lions soft for next week, that they would look at the score and then get drunk on their own success and spend the week stumbling around in a deluded haze, forgetting the fact that, well, they weren’t all that good. I mean, Matthew Stafford was a tad inaccurate – not terribly, but enough to make you go “Hmmm.” – the defense gave up too much on the ground and there were still a few too many mental mistakes. (Who can forget the twin penalties that killed big plays on that drive that ended up being a field goal for the Lions instead of a touchdown?) That shit needs to get fixed or the Lions could get slapped around a bit by a good team.
But that is all just a sign of how quickly things have changed around here. I am dizzy and confused, incapable of keeping my wits about me. Here I am, gibbering about The Fear, only a couple of hours after the Lions demolished the Chiefs, 48-3. What the fuck is wrong with me? I don’t know. All I can say is that I am completely incapable of managing my own expectations at this point and so I suspect that The Fear is stepping in to take the place of my own conscience. On the other hand, I take it as a sign of how much I believe in this team that I am not 100% satisfied with what I saw on the field today. Goddammit, I don’t just want the Lions to win, I want them to win the right way. I want them to maraud like wild Huns from beginning to end. I don’t want them to have to overcome mistakes. I want them to feast on the living and to terrify the dead. It is a sign of how far they have come that I’m already worried about what happens on the next level. Perhaps that is a tad presumptuous – and almost definitely ridiculous – but they’ve already proven they can buzzsaw through mediocre and shitty teams. I want to see how they do against the elite now. Oh Lord, it never ends. It never ends. I suppose as Lions fans we are continually doomed to fret and to nervously chew our lips. Shameful, just shameful. I apologize. That is unbecoming, especially given that, again, THE LIONS WON 48-3. What the hell am I gibbering about? The Fear? Honestly, man . . .
But that’s where I’m at right now. I’m satisfied but still restless, and I suppose that’s not a bad place to be. I enjoyed this – thoroughly – it’s just that, well, I want more. Lots more. The Chiefs are terrible. Just atrocious. Their souls belong to hell. Well, whatever’s left over that hasn’t been consumed by Ndamukong Suh and the boys anyway. Make no mistake, the Lions own the Chiefs now. They make them sit down when they pee and they won’t let them make eye contact lest they catch an ass whippin’. This was a prison rape style beatdown. It was rough, it was uncomfortable to watch and in the end, Matt Cassel was shitting blood. And yet, just like prison sex, it wasn’t entirely satisfying. (Good Lord, what kind of fucked up road have I stumbled down here?) I mean, not that I know whether prison sex is satisfying. I’m just guessing here. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. (Look, you know damn well I could have kept going with this for a lot longer. Just be glad that I ended things when I did.)
Anyway, the point I was trying to make before I took the Yellow-Bricked road to Oz (don’t even asked what stained that particular road yellow) is that while there is a definite satisfaction in watching the Chiefs be blown into their base elements, I don’t want to judge the Lions via the Chiefs of the world anymore, you know? That is like trying to use a yardstick to measure a skyscraper. Obviously that is hyperbolic as all hell, but you get my point. We didn’t learn that much about the Lions ability to compete with the Packers of the world. All we learned was what we had already suspected, which is that they have surpassed the Chiefs and their ilk. And that’s great, don’t get me wrong – I’m ecstatic – but damn it all, I want more. I want more. Who knew I could be so greedy?
Perhaps that’s what 0-16 wrought. I am not satisfied with being the King of the Turds. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Prior to 0-16, we spent the ‘90s as the Kings of Shit Mountain. You know where that gets you? A first round playoff loss and an eventual rocket ride right down to hell, where Matt Millen wears a devil’s costume and spends eternity poking you in the ass with his Trident of Failure. I, uh . . . I don’t want to go back there. Forgive me. I want to run as far from that place as possible and build a suit of armor made up of success and victory. I want it all not just because I’m sure it feels great all on its own but because it is the exact opposite of that hell from which we have climbed, kicking, screaming and bleeding. (And there may have even been the occasional ejaculating but what happens in Hell stays in Hell, at least according to those ads by the Hell Chamber of Commerce.)
But never mind all that. It is unbecoming in the wake of the Lions 48-3 mauling of the Chiefs – and goddammit, part of me just wants to type 48-3 a few hundred times, press submit and call it a day – and really, we should be celebrating and so that’s just what I’m going to do. The Lions won and they won big and my heart soars even while my eyes glance above the horizon, towards the promise of a new world. That smile on my face is one of pure joy, even if it isn’t one of pure satisfaction, and I suppose, therein lies the heart of our continued journey that began in hell and right now ends in a place that exists only in our wildest dreams. But at least it exists somewhere, and thanks to wins like this the line between our dreams and reality has miraculously – and improbably – become blurred, and now I can dream of that place even when I’m awake. And I’m wide awake now and I’m dreaming.