Mike Vandermause column: Lions make it too easy in this one-sided series

Oct. 6, 2013

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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford walks off the field after a 2-point conversion fails in the fourth quarter Sunday at Lambeau Field. / Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports


The Detroit Lions had the perfect excuse for their 23rd straight road loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Everyone in the record-setting Lambeau Field crowd of 78,200 knew the Lions didn’t have a chance when their best player, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, couldn’t play because of a knee injury.

But can we be completely honest? With or without Johnson, there was no way the Lions were going to win.

In the end, no matter who is on the field, the Lions will find a way to lose to the Packers. They always do. It’s simply the Lions being the Lions.

The Packers can always count on their division rival from the Motor City to come through. There’s always something with the Lions, whether it’s a stupid penalty, a blown assignment, a missed block, a coaching miscalculation or some other kind of screwup.

The sight of the Packers’ uniforms turns the Lions’ preparation and good intentions to mush. They act like deer caught in headlights. They play as if their demise is inevitable.

How else can you explain the Packers’ overwhelming control in this series? And we’re not just talking about the Lions’ long road losing streak against the Packers that dates to the elder George Bush administration. The Packers under coach Mike McCarthy have owned the Lions for the past eight seasons.

McCarthy has a remarkable 14-1 career record against Detroit, with the only loss coming in 2010 when quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed half the game with a concussion.

Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett has been around for every one of those 15 games and has seen the Packers’ superiority firsthand.

“We match up good with them,” Pickett said. “I don’t know, it’s a division opponent. We’re familiar with them. I think our record with everybody in our division is pretty good since I’ve been here.”

That’s true, but the Packers’ regular-season record against the Chicago Bears (9-5) and Minnesota Vikings (10-4) doesn’t match their utter domination against Detroit under McCarthy.

“We definitely don’t take those guys for granted,” said cornerback Tramon Williams of the Lions. “There’s a lot of talent on that side. We know it. ... We just find a way to win.”

Or to put it another way, the Lions find a way to lose. Some games against the Packers have been blowouts, others have been close calls, but the end result is always the same.

Little things add up to Lions’ losses, and it was no different in their 22-9 setback on Sunday. Let’s count the ways:

■ In the first quarter, a Lions’ tripping penalty enabled the Packers to avoid a punt and instead drive for a field goal.

■ In the second quarter, the Packers failed to convert on fourth-and-4 from the Detroit 40, but a Lions holding penalty kept the drive alive and led to another field goal.

■ In the third quarter, Packers receiver James Jones ran a deep route and somehow was left to roam free on an easy 83-yard touchdown bomb.

■ Later in the third quarter, Clay Matthews of all people was left unblocked and recorded a 12-yard sack loss to kill yet another Lions drive.

And so it goes for the Lions in their futile quest to beat the Packers.

“I wouldn’t like to come over and play us if I were them,” Packers guard Josh Sitton said.

The Lions are as close to a guaranteed win on the schedule as it gets for the Packers, although no one will admit it publicly.

“It’s not easy getting a win against Detroit,” Pickett said.

That’s the politically correct thing to say, but we all know better.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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