A quick-hitter Monday
Maybe I was wrong about trying that 58-yard field goal in the third quarter of Sunday's 31-22 loss to Carolina. Jason Hanson wasn't as gung-ho about it as I was, at least. He said the wind at that point in the game wasn't nearly as strong as it was for his 56-yarder a quarter earlier, and he explained the risks inherent to kicking off the logo at midfield.
“It's a tough situation,” Hanson said. “For every argument for why we should have kicked it, I can think of one why it might have been a mistake to kick it. It's just when we're trying to win and you scrutinize every little thing – I can't think of another circumstance ever where there would be questioning why you didn't kick a 58 1/2-yarder and that's just the situation we put ourselves in.”
I still think the Lions should have tried it. At 0-10, you have to create your own luck sometimes. But after talking to Hanson I'll temper my criticism of Rod Marinelli's decision to punt.
Always-quotable running back Kevin Smith on his first ever 100-yard game: “I mean, yeah, 100 yards, it was OK, but every back on the field yesterday had 100 yards. I was leading them at halftime and after the half they caught up and blew me out of the water.” Smith ran for 112 yards on 24 carries. Jonathan Stewart had 130 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for Carolina and DeAngelo Williams added 120 and two scores on 14 attempts.
Following up on Sunday's exchange where Marinelli said he has faith in his players despite the 0-10 record, a reporter asked Monday if he truly believes in his team or if he's just saying that because it's his duty as coach. “It's (in) my heart,” Marinelli said. “I couldn't fake this. Some people fake. That's all you see is fake, fake, fake. I'm not fake. I am who I am and you know that. And everything you see and I tell you right here is from my heart. And that's what I believe. I can't fake it. Some people are great fakers. They're pretty good at it, too. I'm not.”
It's in my job description to be skeptical of people, but here's why I believe Marinelli. He's never said he's coaching superstars or the Lions are loaded with talent and he's never said this group can get to the Super Bowl. Those would be lies. All he's saying is he believes the men in the locker room are giving and will continue to give their all and, yes, the Lions can be successful as they're currently constructed. What's successful? Taking Marinelli at his word of living for today, that means winning one game, the next one on the schedule. And I believe Marinelli – every coach, really – thinks he can win one game. If not, why would he continue to coach?
For all the gamblers who lost money on Sunday's wacky Steelers-Chargers finish, you can recoup your losses this week by betting the house on Atlanta to beat Carolina. It's not so much I have faith in the Falcons as I do this stat: Eight of the Lions' nine opponents this year (not including the Panthers) have lost the week after beating Detroit. The lone exception was Houston, which drilled Cincinnati the week after beating the Lions. The real rest of that trend comes the week after Thanksgiving, when the undefeated Titans host the Browns.
Dominic Raiola said he had a brace made for his broken right thumb that should arrive Tuesday and he'll try to practice this week in hopes of playing against Tampa Bay. He said he'll snap right-handed as he normally does, and not try to go to lefty. Marinelli said safety Dwight Smith will run some Tuesday and might be able to play against the Bucs.