DETROIT - You knew that yesterday's supposed NFC North showdown between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers was a lost cause for the home team when the Lions assumed the fetal position late in the third quarter of a Dog Day Afternoon.
Trailing by 21 points in what became a 38-10 butt-whipping at Ford Field, the Lions made what could be generously described as a pathetic attempt to reclaim a measure of respect when they passed on first down for three yards, gained a grand total of one yard on back-to-back runs and punted on fourth down.
Green Bay drove right down the field and capped a 77-yard drive on running back Ahman Green's 20-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Donald Driver.
In your face, Lions!
Well, what are you going to do about it?
"They're a beatable team. Could we have won this game? Not the way we played today," Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington said. "We did not play well. I wish I could put it [another way]."
It wasn't the pressure of losing to Green Bay that caused the Lions to choke like a chicken bone lodged in the throat. At 3-2, the Lions are still performing better than expected in 2004.
Green Bay was a desperate football team. If the Packers had lost yesterday, the rest of their season was toast.
No, the Lions simply needed to compete and try not to trip over themselves in the process. They failed on both accounts.
The last time the Lions played a "defining moment" game, the Philadelphia Eagles blew their doors off a month ago.
Like clockwork, whenever the Lions have faced stiff competition, all of their weaknesses have been exposed.
When Detroit's top offensive threat turns out to be kick returner Eddie Drummond, you know the Lions are in trouble.
Drummond, by the way, was arguably the only Lion who earned an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. The rest of the team - coaching staff included - should offer refunds.
Drummond amassed 230 total return yards. Incredibly, Detroit's feeble offense produced only 125 total yards and five first downs.
Harrington is the Lions' quarterback of record. He'll remain on the field unless he's carried off because of injury.
The lack of offensive weapons puts too much pressure on Harrington to make plays.
Last year's top draft pick, Charles Rogers, is lost for the season, and this year's No. 1 pick, fellow wideout Roy Williams, didn't play yesterday because of an ankle injury. Rookie running back Kevin Jones wasn't at full speed because of a bum ankle.
Translation: Detroit needed Harrington to beat the Packers.
The problem is, Harrington isn't ready to win games on his own. Coach Steve Mariucci doesn't allow Harrington to throw the ball deep. Harrington isn't the kind of quarterback who can put the rest of the offense on his back.
Everyone's to blame for yesterday's humbling loss. Not just Harrington.
What happened to the Lions' supposedly vaunted defense? What hole did defensive end James Hall and defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson fall into against the Packers? Why are the Lions always at their worst when we expect the best?