the post-game interview while a random Indian dude puts the creepy
thousand yard stare on the entire nation for reasons unknown.
Let's play a drinking game! Everytime NBC references last year's handshake drama during the game broadcast or their studio show, take a shot. Two shots if they show the clip. We'll all have cirrohsis by the Third Quarter. We began, as is traditional on Sunday Nights, with the muting of Faith Hill.
Akers kicks off through the back of the end zone, a little too wide for a rouge. Lions start out running out of the shotgun formation twice (???), calling a time out, and an incomplete pass to Calvin. Williams catches the punt out of bounds. 49ers start with an empty backfield (???) and an incomplete pass. Mario Manningham runs an end around for 30! Play action to Crabtree for 20. Cutting it as close to possible to a delay of game as Alex calls an audible, corner route to Vernon Davis TOUCHDOWN. Davis opts for a basic jump shot instead of a dunk. Akers converts, and its 7-0 49ers already. Woo Hoo.
A rare non-touchback by Akers is returned decently, plus 5 for the Niners being offside. Lions come out running twice again, Calvin converts a first by slipping free of the hands of BOWMAN. Lions back themselves up with a hold while still trying to run early, Cullver swats away the deep bomb but is called for PI. Well, he did tug the guy's sleeve. Lions try the same pass on the other side and Rogers knocks it away clean. Burleson runs an end around for a token gain, 3rd and 8, Pettigrew catches it short of the sticks thanks to a nice stick and wrap up by Whitner. 38 yarder by the ancient Hanson is good, 7-3.
Kendall Hunter is stood up and stripped of the ball on the kickoff. Well, fuck. Lions start at the 25. Defense forces an immediate 3 and out, capped by Ahmad Brooks jumping and swatting down a pass at the line. Hanson's FG bounces off the upright loudly, but through. 7-6.
Hunter holds onto the ball this time but doesn't get back to the 20. A hold makes it even worse. NBC emulates FOX.
Gore off left guard for 13. Gore for 4, Gore for 5, Jumbo Package in front of Gore fails. Lee launches a rocket with a moderate return, hampered even further by a hold.
GOLDSON interception of a wobbly overthrown pass on third down in front of midfield, he returns it inside the 25, yes! Gore two conservative runs up the middle, time out #1 with :53 ticks left, 3rd and 4. BAD SNAP almost spells disaster, but Alex gets out of the tackle box -- laterally as well as the 20 yards vertically, and throws it away. Akers connects, but the Lions are flagged for bowling him over. Running into the kicker is good for 5 and a first down. Unbalanced Line Left, Gore runs right for 4. And that will end the quarter. Or not? 49ers run a play when I thought the clock went to zero, and Randy Moss draws PI in the end zone. We go to commercial, as NBC decides the quarter CAN end on a defensive foul, even if the half can't.
1st and Goal at the 1. This time the Jumbo Package works behind Kilgore (67) and Tufuafu (92). Akers converts, and its 14-6 49ers. Akers bounces it to the back of the end zone for a touchback. Bell with the lion's share of the Lions running so far. Sorry about that one. He catches a swing pass and makes it a first down. Bell for 1, short pass to Calvin, who meets PATRICK WILLIS. Next short crossing pass to Calvin is far too high and he barely gets one hand on it. Kyle Williams takes a stiff hit but holds onto the ball on a short return, which is still all we hope for.
Short shotgun pass to Delany Walker for 7. Empty backfield pass to Manningham converts. Sideline pattern to Moss gets 15, a first, and into Lions territory. Suh jumps and bumps for a free encroachment 5. Suh gets it back on a sack back at midfield. Timeout #2.
Gore gets the sack yards back on a draw, 3rd and 6. Crabtree bobbles and drops it at the sticks. Lee pops one up, fair caught at the 14. Ultimately, the sack stalls the drive, the concern I expected.
Kevin Smith 6 yards right for the best Lions run by default. Smith again for 5 and a first. Fake end around swing pass, WILLIS whacks Burleson but not in time to prevent another first down. Lions running a little better with Smith instead of Bell, 3rd and 6 pass for 20 plus to Calvin, oh well. A short run, a deep overthrow draws defensive holding on Rogers, a dubious call at best. Calvin drops a ball under the shadow of BOWMAN. Ahmad Brooks pressures Stafford and stalls the drive. 40 yarder by Hanson hits the upright on his right again, and this time it bounces out. The North Goalposts are the cruel, unforgiving sister of the pair.
DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP to Vernon Davis, but he fails to hold on, DB with a well timed swipe. Gore runs up the middle for 16. Checkdown to Hunter bobbled. Hunter draw doesn't work too well and brings the two minute warning.
Davis catches the comeback route this time, 14 and a first. Gore runs with the short pass before he catches it, incomplete. The ref falls down and misses a possible PI. Shovel Pass to Gore does not gain enough, Lions timeout. That was...underwhelming.
Collinsworth keeps talking about Andy Lee's thumb injury like he's trying to hex him. Punt is fair caught at the 10. Lions opt to sit on the ball. HALFTIME SCORE: 14-6 49ers.
Hunter back to return the kick, he needn't have bothered, ends up kneeling on the chalk at the back of the end zone. FLEA FLICKER is a disaster as Alex spends 5 seconds dodging sacks in vain, but Vanden Bosch grabs his face mask on the eventual sack, so it picks up 15 anyway. So the flea flicker may stay in the playbook after all. WR screen to Manningham picks up a first down at the 47. Classic Gore stutter step and dash for 11 up the middle. Manningham catches a short rollout. Toss sweep to Kendall Hunter works brilliantly, someone grabs just enough of him to slow and stagger him and send him out of bounds before he could turn upfield and dash for the end zone, instead its 15 and a first. Smith takes a bad sack. Vernon Davis slips a couple tackles and gets it back to about 3rd and 7. Just before the clock expires, Crabtree short reception for not enough, and here comes David Akers. 36 yarder is as close to automatic as you can get. 17-6 49ers.
Akers' kick is subject to a very good return, out near the 40. Lions continue to throw short crossing patterns which are caught and tackled immediately. 3rd and 1, swing pass to Kevin Smith converts. 2 more runs get 3rd and 1 again, Lions running more, and a little better, than I expected. Bell gets the first on second effort. 3rd and 5 from the 22 is a low pass caught for no gain. 40 yarder at the north posts again, this time Hanson hits and makes it 17-9 49ers.
Hunter with an ill-advised return from 4 yards deep to only the 15.
Hunter does better out of the backfield on a screen pass right for 9 yards. Toss sweep left is strung out but Hunter still gets enough to convert. Gore for 6. Slant to Crabtree gets another first. Swing pass to Hunter again gets 12 and another first down. Gore ends the 3rd Quarter with a 12 yard run to the 30 yard line.
Now the 49ers are going north. Bruce Miller drops his one chance at the FB wheel route for the game. Then Delany Walker drops one too. Ugh. Next pass bounces off Manningham's hands. Ugh. Pretty woeful sequence when the other side can't stop the run. 48 yard attempt by Akers, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth talk up Candlestick's infamous wind but Akers is DOMINANT. 20-9 49ers.
Akers DESTROYS the kickoff, putting it in an end zone cameraman's lap.
Calvin gets the Lions to exactly midfield. Scheffler over the middle for 15 right after another token running play. Stafford draw gets another first play. Damn. An actual sack for once would be nice. Hey it worked! Aldon Smith drags him down, Stafford keeps going, then Brooks sacks him back even further. The Lions now have to challenge that he was down the first time (he clearly was, you can see his knee bounce). Still, a sack at last.
So it's 3rd and 17 instead of 3rd and 23, barring a tremendously epic fit of blindness by the scabs. No such fuckup is forthcoming, the ball is respotted and the clock is reset. Lions false start, so it's 3rd and 20+ after all that. 49ers play essentially a prevent and a short pass gets back to the 30. 48 yard attempt by Hanson hooks just inside. 20-12 with 9:16 left.
Hunter takes the kick at the goal line and gets to the 21. An actual touchdown would be very nice right now please. Crabtree takes a shove on a sideline pattern but nudges the ball forward just enough for a third down conversion. Lions are starting to bring numbers and cut Gore down in the backfield. Offense not looking very imaginative, or very good right now. 3rd and 14 after a pass falls at Gore's unlooking feet. But Crabtree comes through on a short crossing route, turning upfield to get just enough to move the chains once again. This time Gore holds on to the swing pass, gets another first down, and penetrates Lion territory as the clock continues to bleed. Alex gets a great 20 plus yard scramble that is not only negated by a hold, but the scabs deliberately ignore a flagrant forearm shiver to his head that draws blood as he's sliding. Utter horse shit. But on a 3rd and 9, Crabtree converts AGAIN. Lion Timeout. Holy shit, is this what Michael Crabtree finally stepping up looks like?
Toss sweep left by Hunter for 8, Lion time out.
Alex Rolls out, hits Vernon Davis for a first down, Davis cuts back to the middle of the field and he is going to SCORE! TOUCH-MOTHER FUCKING-DOWN. He hits another short J on the goalposts, and Automatic Akers converts to make it 27-12 49ers with 3:04 left. 6 minutes gone, 2 time outs gone, and 7 points further down. Massive Drive. Shot of Alex on the sideline as his nose has a vertical purple streak of drying Warrior Fluid. Kickoff is not returned. Aldon Smith sacks Stafford on first down. Second down pass sails incomplete. Screen pass to Bell on 3rd and 17 somehow gets 47 after Culliver misses a tackle. 2nd and 5 after a short pass, 49ers call time out #1 with 2:14. Deep pass is tipped in the end zone and Titus Young gets SMOKED. Idiots throw a flag and I start screaming about how they don't know the rules because a tipped ball elininates DPI, but they actually called OPI on Young. Young 11 yard catch and run at the Two Minute Warning.
3rd and 4. Pettigrew drops at the sticks under the coverage of WILLIS. 4th down, Calvin gets the first, bounces off Whitner and gets just inside the 10 where Culliver finally brings him down, Lion timeout #3 with 1:45 left and a 15 point lead. 49ers look confused and call time out #2. Bell slips on first down, incomplete. Scheffler drops it in the endzone, incomplete. Pettigrew holds on, withstanding the hit of Whitner on 3rd down. Hanson converts and it is 27-19 with 1:29 left. Onside Kick Incoming. 49er call time out #3, icing the kicker on an onside kick? 49ers had nobody back deep, maybe that was why. Collinsworth talking up the possiblity of lobbing it long over everyone and trying to run it down in the wake of that. No, still nobody deep. The Lions try exactly that, but Kyle Williams runs it down and slides on top of it at the 24. Victory formation time. They are talking up the upcoming handshake, ugh shut up. Third kneeldown at :24 seconds left clinches it, there is no handshake incident, much to the dismay of NBC's well positioned camera man. Got a little closer at the end than it should have, but the final score is to the positive. FINAL SCORE: 49ers 27, Lions 19.
Absolutely have to feel really good about this team in the wake of this. It's invigorating to see them come out ahead when you know they've been in a real fight... and this match-up is always going to be one.