Detroit Lions Wild Card Review: The Good and the Bad

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Sep 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL referee Pete Morelli (135) during the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad

The Officials

I already touched on the officiating from yesterday’s game a bit, but it needs to be addressed further. I’m not one to believe in conspiracy theories or professional sports games being “fixed.” My biggest problem is not the blown calls, they happen. But the way the blown calls were handled really bothered me.

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According to head coach Jim Caldwell, the officials didn’t really give much of an explanation as to why they picked up the flag proceeding the controversial pass interference call.

The fact that yesterday’s officiating crew had not worked together at all this season is a real testament to how screwed up the NFL officiating process really is. How can a billion dollar league throw together a group of guys who haven’t worked together before into a crucial playoff game? And how is it possible that you can’t get a call right with multiple officials with multiple angles?

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You can blame the officials all you want, and I won’t argue with you, but the Lions’ coaching staff really folded in the second half. Specifically, Jim Caldwell’s decision to punt rather than go for it on 4th-and-1 was an overly conservative decision if you ask me.

The problem for the Lions is that they played to not lose rather than playing to win. They’ve been good all year in short yardage situations, and had a chance to extend the drive and get a score. Hindsight is obviously 20/20, but I just think you have to go for it in that situation.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi also had a rough night. Trying to force the ball to Reggie Bush has been a staple of the Lions’ offense this year. Despite being an unreliable option in the pass game, Lombardi continued to target Bush on third down. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.

Sam Martin

Martin punted the ball four times and averaged 35.5 yards per punt. You probably don’t need me to tell you that that’s pretty awful for a punter. His worst came in the fourth quarter following Caldwell’s decision to punt on 4th-and-one, resulting in a 10-yard punt. Yes, 10 yards. Yikes.

Honorable Mentions:

Jeremy Ross, James Ihedigbo, DeAndre Levy, Cassius Vaughn, Mohammed Seisay, EVERYTHING