Detroit Lions: Remember that time Blair Walsh tried a 68-yard field goal?

ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 28: A helmet for the Detroit Lions sits on the sidelines during the second half of a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 28: A helmet for the Detroit Lions sits on the sidelines during the second half of a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) /

In the final Detroit Lions home game of 2014, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh looked to channel his inner Tom Dempsey, while I held my breath in section 136.

This week’s unusual/bizarre piece of Detroit Lions history involves an absurdly long field goal attempt from the 2014 finale.

The relief I felt from this near-miss is seared into my memory, since it happened during a rare pilgrimage to Ford Field for me.

The Lead Up

The Lions came into the game with one of the best defenses in the NFL. A 9-4 record and back-to-back 34-17 wins had them within striking distance of the division title. Minnesota had rookie Teddy Bridgewater at QB and was going to be lucky to get a .500 finish.

A shaky first half put the Honolulu Blues in a 14-0 hole midway through the second quarter. The sluggish offense was bailed out by a Glover Quin pick-six and numerous other defensive stands.

Late in the fourth quarter, a Matt Prater field goal gave the Lions their first lead of the day. The defense forced a turnover on downs on the next possession and looked to be out of the woods. However, failing to pick up a first down running the ball (sound familiar?) gave the Vikings one final gasp.

Blair Walsh lined up for an unthinkable 68 yard field goal on the final play of the game.

With one second on the clock, the Vikings moved the ball just short of midfield. Up until they actually lined up, it hadn’t remotely crossed my mind that a field goal attempt was a legitimate option.

I noticed a few different players subbing onto the field, along with an eerie buzzing from a small segment of the crowd. Apparently, only a few of them understood what was going on as well. I saw #3 out there. I’m thinking maybe he’s a backup QB with a stronger arm than Bridgewater, coming on to throw the final Hail Mary.

The buzzing grew louder, as more people (but still not me) had caught on.

“…in to attempt a 68 yard field goal.”  Wait! No…please, no. The ball was already snapped as I finally grasped the horror of what was potentially about to take place.

This again?

It’s one thing to lose a game. It’s another thing to lose on a crazy play like a Hail Mary, which happens once every few years or so. Still, it’ s yet another category of sports fan agony for your team to lose on a feat that has never before happened in the history of the league. In the one game per year that you were able to fly in to watch live.

Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yarder on the final play of the game to beat the Lions in 1970. It broke the all time record by seven yards. A 54-yarder in the freezing cold in Chicago knocked them out of the playoff picture on the final play of the 2000 regular season. Justin Tucker ruined Detroit’s season the previous year with a 61-yard Monday Night blast that had plenty of leg. The Lions’ own current kicker has a 64 yard boot to his credit.

Impossible is nothing with the Lions, and the impossible has a sneaky way of biting them on impossibly long field goal attempts. 68 yards from Blair Walsh? Unfortunately, I could see that happening.

Please just block it, I thought. Don’t even let it off the line.

Up in the air

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Walsh let fly, and it soared upwards and over the line. Keep in mind, I’m sitting in the opposite end zone and to the left while this is taking place. From my vantage point, it looked like Walsh got a pretty good piece of the ball.

For the first two-thirds of its trajectory, to my eyes it looked like it might have a chance. In that few seconds, my mind jumped back and forth half a dozen times, between “he can’t possibly make this” and “he might make this”. It wasn’t until the fans with a better angle began roaring during the ball’s descent that I understood history would not be repeating itself.

I never saw the ball land. I also never actually saw the refs wave their arms to signal ‘no good’, but the kick definitely missed. Until watching highlights the next day, I had no clue exactly how close it was. Turns out, it was wide left and landed about halfway deep in the end zone. I still felt that was way too close for comfort.

Lions 16, Vikings 14. Final. (Game highlights here)

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The Lions moved to 10-4 and clinched a playoff spot before kickoff of their next game. The 11-5 finish was their best season that I was old enough to remember.

The next season, Blair Walsh lined up for a far easier kick to upset the Seahawks and advance in the playoffs. He famously missed that one wide left as well. His confidence and reliability as a kicker have plummeted since.

Oh , and I would only be partially surprised if Matt Prater made a 68-yard field goal. That is all.