Belief isn’t just a word. As frustrating as that game today was at times there was never a moment when I didn’t believe that the Lions would win it. Okay, perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement. I mean I definitely wondered “Wait, could the Lions actually lose this damn thing?” I am a realist after all. But even though the idea that they could lose the game entered freely into my head, set up shop and started drinking heavily with its friends Fear and Madness, there was never really a time when I thought the Lions would lose that game. That’s what belief, real honest genuine belief, will do for you.
Even after the Rams kicked the field goal to take the lead with just under two minutes left, I believed. Actually, to hell with that. Forget about “even after . . .” Especially after the Rams kicked that field goal, I believed that the Lions would win. My biggest fear was actually that the Rams would be able to bleed the clock down to nothing and then kick the field goal. When they were forced to settle for the field goal with two minutes still left on the clock, I smiled internally and thought “Good, you just fucked up. Game over, motherfucker.”
That’s because we had Doc Holliday at quarterback and even though Doc was tubercular and had earlier blown his own toe off after getting drunk and stumbling on his way to the OK Corral and was seen spitting up blood for much of the second half, he was still Doc fuckin’ Holliday and when it came time to draw down on those cowardly Clanton boys . . . well, he’ll be your Huckleberry.
Goddamn right. I believed. I believed because he has earned it, because this team has earned it. I believed because they believe in themselves. You could see it on the face of Jim Schwartz after the Rams kicked that go ahead field goal. The dude didn’t even flinch. Instead he just had this confident sort of look on his face, like “Okay, well I guess we’ll just have to do this the hard way,” and then they did. Less than two minutes later Doc Stafford was running around without a care in the world while the Rams lay on the street, shot down by the best, and Jeff Fisher hung his head in utter defeat. That’s what belief will do for you.
It wasn’t just in those last two minutes either. You can tell this team has sort of an otherworldly confidence in itself now. Yesterday on Twitter Lawrence Jackson was carrying on like a real life character from a Tale of The Great Willie Young and then all game long Chris Myers couldn’t shut up about The Power of Calvin, the team’s new mantra, which let’s face it, sounds like something I’d make up. It’s kind of surreal, seeing this team and my vision for it meeting in some strange, fucked up hyper-confident Glory Land where players like St. Calvin are deified not just by me and the rest of the fans but by his own coaches and teammates. It’s strange and wonderful to know that we’re all on the same page, that we’re all a little crazy, smiling bloody smiles and laughing in the face of death all because we share one common thing: belief.
Of course there was plenty of reason for that belief to be shaken, what with Doc Stafford’s aforementioned Tubercular misadventures with a traitorous shotgun, but if anything I just felt like what had gone on was just really fucking weird. I wasn’t so much worried as I was thinking “well, it’s just one of those things . . .” And it was. It was just one of those things. (How’s that for analysis?) No matter how much Tim Ryan wanted to talk about Matthew Stafford being off, the reality is that during the first half he was really, really fucking on. How can I say that about a dude who threw three interceptions? I don’t know, except that it’s true. He was both awesome and horrible in that first half, but it wasn’t like he was especially inconsistent or anything, missing on throws and all that. It’s just that his three bad throws were really fucking bad. Actually, it’s not even that they were that bad, it’s just that the Rams played human chess and made the right move a few times. It happens.
Look, I’m having a hard time describing what Matthew Stafford’s first half looked like because, well . . . like I said, it was just fucking weird. The dude was a goddamn master surgeon most of the time, effortlessly dissecting the Rams on the way down the field and it was glorious to watch. But then the master surgeon kept knicking arteries and, well, you can be a brilliant surgeon 99% of the time but the moment blood starts spurting in everyone’s eyes that other 1% of the time all that shit doesn’t really matter.
I’m not worried about Matthew Stafford. I have seen shit like this from him before. Like I said, it happens. I don’t think it’s any great harbinger of what’s to come, but rather an isolated bout of weirdness that we can thankfully put behind us since the Lions managed to actually win the game. If they had lost we could spend time wearing hairshirts, lamenting the fall of mankind and whipping each other with chains made of Fear and Regret, but they didn’t and so fuck it, who cares? It is what it is.
Stafford actually looked a lot shakier in the second half, which I attribute directly to those three first half interceptions. He was overthrowing everyone – a result, I think, of not wanting to get picked again – and when he wasn’t, his receivers were dropping everything. It sucked but, again, I don’t think it’s indicative of anything other than him being a little fucked in the head from the first half. But by the end of the game, all that shit was just so much noise, the whisper of some terrible memory, Stafford pulled his shit together and blew those fuckers away. The end.
Really, that’s what I’m taking away from this game. No matter how ridiculous or weird things got – I mean, come on, the Lions trailed at the half even though they didn’t have to punt until the third quarter – I still believed and so did all the Lions players and coaches. And no matter how shitty things got, no matter how much Stafford’s head was fucked with and nuked, in the end he was able to overcome all of that and win the damn game. Did it suck? Yeah, I groaned and swore at the TV and beseeched the old gods just like everyone else, but when you can suck and still win the game, well . . . things are looking pretty good.
But again, it wasn’t even like the Lions looked inept or anything. On a down to down basis they looked like a fucking machine. Stafford was able to move the ball pretty much at will for large chunks of the game and Kevin Smith even ran the ball effectively. Meanwhile, the defense kicked ass for most of the game and beat the hell out of Sam Bradford while holding Steven Jackson almost completely in check. There were just those few crucial and damn near catastrophic mistakes, and they almost cost us. But I’ll say it again, in the end the Lions still won the game, so . . . who really cares? I don’t think they’re mistakes that are likely to reoccur – at least not with the same frequency or freakishly back to back to back like they did – so in the end, I think they’re just a weird anomaly and I refuse to let them taint this simple and irrefutable truth: the Lions won.
Really, nothing else matters. The Lions won and they won because they believed. They believe and I believe and The Power of Calvin is a burgeoning religion. This game didn’t fuck with my head the way you probably think it did, and that’s a testament to that belief, to the tenets of that religion which have given my life structure and meaning, or at least peace on Sundays. You can complain all you want about what went wrong but really, I think even the complaints and general bitchery surrounding this game are a sign of our collective belief. We no longer fear losing to the Rams – sure, it almost happened but deep down I think most of us kept our faith – but we’re still fans, prone to misery and so in the absence of that fear we have come to desire perfection. It’s not enough that the team wins, they have to be perfect. Matthew Stafford doesn’t just have to throw the game winning touchdown pass, he needs to throw five of them and then levitate before impregnating every woman in the crowd using only the power of his mind. This is a sign of how far we’ve come.
Matthew Stafford will be fine. For fuck’s sake, the dude is only 24 years old and last year he threw for 5,000 yards. Anyone seriously bitching about him or wringing their hands in agony is just making love to their own misery, their own masochistic need to dwell in the fires of hell because it’s easier than believing in the cool waters of heaven. Matthew Stafford will be fine. Repeat that to yourself, say The Power of Calvin three times in a row, huff from your ether rag (I’m assuming you all have one, especially if you’re reading this.) and then tweak your nipples as the Good News overwhelms you in both body and spirit.
The Lions won, the Lions won, the Lions won. And I never stopped believing. And that’s the only story of this game that really matters.