Lions should stick with Orlovsky
Dan Orlovsky wasn't great in his first NFL start he completed just 12-of-21 passes for 150 yards but in my opinion he was good enough to earn a second start next week against Houston.
Orlovsky played turnover-free football in the Lions' 12-10 loss to the Vikings Sunday, which is more than Jon Kitna's done all year.
"He managed the game well," running back Rudi Johnson said. "That's what we asked him to do."
Kitna missed his first start in 37 games because of a back injury, and there's no telling how long he'll be out. He didn't spend much time around the Lions' Allen Park headquarters last week and wasn't there when the team met Saturday to leave for the airport. It's possible he may never start again as a Lion, either because of the injury, because the trade deadline is this week, or because it's time to see more of young quarterbacks Orlovsky and Drew Stanton.
Orlovsky, who said Kitna called to wish him luck Sunday morning, took ownership of the offense like any starting quarterback should. Pinned at his own 3 the first time the Lions touched the ball, Orlovsky told his teammates, "Let's go on a 97-yard touchdown drive." They didn't, but that kind of confidence is commendable.
Lions coach Rod Marinelli wouldn't commit to Orlovsky as his starter for next week, but Orlovsky sounded like the job was his after the game.
"Right now my mindset is this is my football team, absolutely," he said.
As for how he played, Orlovsky, who missed several pass and stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety, said there's plenty of room for improvement.
"I just think at the end of the day I didn't do enough at this position," he said. "That's tough to swallow. I'm not going to gauge my performance other than I just didn't do enough for a win."
Here's my take on Sunday's two disputed calls: On Calvin Johnson's fumble, I don't think referee Tony Corrente had enough to overturn the call on the field, whatever it was. Johnson's hand appeared to be under the ball as he hit the ground, but a hand on the ball doesn't equal full possession. On Leigh Bodden's pass-interference penalty, that flag never should have been thrown. Bodden nudged receiver Aundrae Allison, but not enough to affect a second-and-20 pass that wasn't going to be complete. There's at least that much contact on most contested pass plays in the NFL, and there was more on the non-interference call on Calvin Johnson midway through the third quarter.
One gaffe Orlovsky made aside from the safety was burning the Lions' second timeout with 4:54 to play. "My phones cut out and I couldn't hear Drew sending in the call," Orlovsky explained. "I wasn't going to try and force or just make up a call. It's a critical point in the game and I trust Jim (Colletto) and Kippy (Brown) to come up with something that will be successful. So it's better for them to call it than for me to call it." I understand the thinking. It was third-and-6 and the Lions were trying to kill the clock and get a first down to preserve their 10-9 lead, but there were 18 seconds on the playclock when Orlovsky asked for time. That's enough clock to signal in a play. At the very least, Orlovsky should have ran time down before taking the timeout.
Not having that timeout came back to haunt the Lions when Gerald Alexander got hurt on the first play after the two-minute warning. That cost the Lions their final timeout, and Minnesota ran the next 1:35 off the clock before Ryan Longwell's game-winning 26-yard field with nine seconds to play.
Alexander stayed overnight Sunday in Minneapolis to undergo further tests on his neck. He said there were no fractures, but medical staff at the Metrodome wheeled a backboard into the locker room to transport Alexander to a local hospital. "It feels like a stinger, but x-rays say something different," Alexander said. "We're just taking precaution."
I'll leave you with a two quotes:
- From Marinelli, on the Lions' defense which forced a season-high three turnovers and five sacks but didn't do enough to win: "I thought they competed very well but you have to win those games. ... You fight, but you fight to win."
- From receiver Roy Williams, on the pain of losing such a close game: "It hurts. It hurts more than the first four. The first four we weren't even in the ballgame. This one we were more competitive. Don't take this wrong (but) I don't mind losing as long as we lose something like that. Once we get blown out, that's unacceptable."