What role did the Detroit Lions play in this year’s Super Bowl?

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Fireworks are seen during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Fireworks are seen during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

For a franchise that’s now gone 0 for 52 in attempts to participate in America’s largest sporting event, the Detroit Lions sure made their presence felt during Super Bowl LII.

This year’s Super Bowl was another classic, ending in Philadelphia’s 41-33 upset win over New England. Despite their obvious absence from the matchup, many of the game’s biggest story lines were either directly or indirectly influenced by the Detroit Lions.

This includes some key decision makers on the sidelines, personnel decisions, and the gutsiest play call of the 2017 season.

The once and future kings

In Jim Schwartz and Matt Patricia, It was pretty interesting to see Detroit’s past and future head coaches squaring off as defensive coordinators in the Super Bowl. I know, I know, “no wonder there was about 6,000 yards of total offense then!”

Congratulations to Schwartz, who finally gets his ring. My  guess is this is still only the #2 highlight of Schwartz’s career though. After all, he did beg his Bills players to carry him off the field after winning a regular season game at Ford Field in 2014.

Patricia will certainly be haunted by his defense’s no show performance on Sunday. This should leave him extra motivated to get the job done once he arrives in Detroit. The Lions play against the Pats at Ford Field next season. An upset win over his mentor Belichick would be a major jumpstart for Patricia’s head coaching career.

The Butler didn’t do it this time

Around Boston, one of the hottest topics on the sports talk radio shows is the unexplained benching of Malcolm Butler.  Super Bowl XLIX’s hero got in for exactly one play this time around, a punt ending in a fair catch.

In the second half, one of Butler’s replacements was a former Lion who I was shocked to see logging key minutes in the Super Bowl: Johnson Bademosi. A year ago, Bademosi was an underwhelming backup in Detroit who was in way over his head when injuries forced him into a starting role down the stretch. His enduring legacy as a Lion will likely be the set of pathetic puns on the word ‘bad’ that my Pops and uncles used to describe BADemosi.

Fast forward a year, and Bademosi is playing late in the 4th quarter of a highly entertaining Super Bowl. He was on the field for both of Philadelphia’s final touchdown passes, but not involved in either play.

Kyle Van Noy wasn’t good enough to be a Lion?

After only two and a half years in Detroit, the 2nd round draft picking was let go basically for nothing. All New England had to do was swap a 6th round pick for a 7th round pick in exchange.

Less than two years later Van Noy already has one Super Bowl ring. He played every single defensive snap on Sunday, very nearly getting a second one in the process.  This guy seriously wasn’t good enough to hack it in Honolulu Blue? Don’t get me wrong, I think Jarrad Davis is going to be solid for the next decade, but something is off with that.

I’ve seen that play somewhere before

On fourth and goal late in the first half, Philly stepped right into the Honolulu Blue and Silver linings playbook. The Eagles pulled off an outrageously clever reverse pass, leaving two players wide open in the end zone.

As soon as Nick Foles started walking towards his right tackle, the light bulb went off in my head. Wait a second…

And indeed, it was nearly an exact mirror image of the Golden Tate to Matthew Stafford two point play in Week 17. Stafford actually sold the fake a lot better than Foles, but the end result was the same.

Next: Ranking the 5 best Lions draft classes of the past 30 years

It’s one thing to call that play late in a blowout and the playoffs already out of reach. It’s quite another when you’re playing out of your mind but still barely beating Tom Brady, and settling for three points really isn’t an option. Golden to Stafford was the play call of the year for Detroit. Trey Burton to Foles was the play call of the year in the NFL.

Matt Patricia maybe should have started studying film on the Lions one day sooner.

LIIIons in Super Bowl 53.