Tell you a secret.
If you want attend games and talk to coaches and players, become a sportswriter. But if you want to actually watch the end of games, remain a fan.
That’s why I tell you now that the Detroit Lions’ 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday … felt like a win.
It did. It felt, smelled and tasted like a win.
I’m not sugarcoating the stinging loss. I’m not awarding the Lions a moral victory. What I’m saying is that for most of Sunday, the Lions controlled that game and seemed to have a victory easily in hand.
Until they didn’t.
Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara walks off the field after the 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
And most of that happened late in the fourth quarter, when sportswriters like me are busy banging out our stories that get published online as soon as the game is over.
The Lions had a 23-6 lead after the third quarter. Matthew Stafford was playing well and threw a touchdown pass. Adrian Peterson was impressive and the running game was clicking. T.J. Hockenson was making big catches. And the defense had barbed wire around the end zone.
After the Lions went up, 20-6, on their first drive of the third quarter, I openly wondered on Twitter if the Bears might bench Mitchell Trubisky. At the half, Trubisky had only completed 40% of his passes and the Bears’ offense was going nowhere.
So I started typing in the fourth quarter. And the Bears started making their comeback. Here’s my brief rundown of what the game felt like to me in in the fourth quarter as I peered over my laptop occasionally.
- Trubisky throws a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham to cut the Lions’ lead to 23-13 with 13:39 left. That’s so cute. They let Graham out of the old folks’ home to catch a ball. Good for these gutty little Bears. Did Trubisky or Nick Foles throw that?
- The Lions punt. Trubisky throws incomplete, then Trey Flowers sacks him and the Lions nearly recover deep in Chicago territory. The Bears have to punt from their own 29 with 8:37 left. I wonder what’s for dinner when I get home. Oh, well. Tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap.
- Matt Prater misses a 55-yarder and the Bears take over from their 45 with 4:02 left. Hmmm. Nah, it’ll never happen. Trubisky can’t score 10 points in 4 minutes. And I like that Matt Patricia wasn’t conservative and wanted to score, then pin them deep with a kickoff. Oh, well. Better file this story soon.
- Trubisky completes five straight passes and the Bears score in 1:04 to cut the lead to 23-20 with 2:58 left. Wait, is this happening? This can’t happen, right? The Bears will try an onside kick and this will be over. And even if they don’t, Adrian Peterson has been running great. They’ll get a couple of first downs and then everyone’s headed to postgame happyland.
At this point, I’ve stopped typing. Stafford throws an interception on third-and-5 and the Bears score the winning touchdown on a Trubisky pass two plays.
Free Press columnist Shawn Windsor and I exchange looks in the press box. We both have that “I want to punch my laptop right now so that I don’t have to start over writing.”
There’s 1:54 left, but the Lions’ offense has gone cold. The Lions actually do everything right. Stafford throws the winning touchdown pass to D’Andre Swift. What a comeback! And the rookie is the hero!But Swift drops it with 6 seconds left. The groans from the Lions’ sideline, the coaches in the press box and the stadium workers echo through Ford Field. The next pass is incomplete. Game over.
If you’re a Lions fan, this had to feel like a gut punch. Maybe even a little lower.
For us sportswriters? We’re supposed to be objective and dispassionate. And we are. But even this gets old for us because when you cover a team that has been doing the right things and has been winning most of the game only to find itself explaining another perplexing loss, it’s exhausting trying to make sense of it.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.