Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Moral Victory, As Lions Don't Embarrass Themselves Against Playoff-Bound Cards

If you look real hard at the NFL standings in this morning's newspaper---squint, go cross-eyed, maybe dip the newsprint in lemon juice and hold it up to a black light---you'll see a fourth column, nestled among W, L, and T.

It's MV. And the Detroit Lions are among the league leaders in that secret society category.

MV---the Moral Victory. The Lions do pretty well against that spread; have for years, as a matter of fact.

The NFL's Moral Victory is something that's declared, not proven on any stat sheet; it doesn't necessarily even jump out at you on the JumboTron scoreboard in the end zone.

The MV, loosely translated, means getting just due for something that should be routine.

The Lions lost yesterday---a distinct "L" in the commonly-accepted league standings that are visible to the naked, untrained eye. The scoreboard says so. It read Cardinals 31, Lions 24 when the sands of time ran out.

But hold on---a Moral Victory was declared! The first salvo was fired on that social media jobbie-do called Twitter.

"Lions lose, 31-24. But at least they didn't quit after falling behind by 17," was how one Twitterer described it, moments after the final gun.

Yeah, there's that.

So I guess the Lions did quit the week before, in Baltimore, when the Ravens gave them a swirly and a Melvin and took their lunch money to the tune of 48-3.

No MV when you lose by 45, eh?

The Moral Victory means that you hang in there and don't give up and, basically, come close but lose to a superior opponent. The NFL is filled with teams superior to the Lions, so the latter has more opportunities for the MV than most of their brethren, granted.

The 2-12 Lions fell behind yesterday to the 9-5 Cardinals, 17-0, and with the Lions you don't know which way that can go. A 17-0 deficit is just as likely to turn into 34-3, or it could result in an MV.

The bereft-of-big plays Lions pulled a couple out of their...posterior, and just like that a football game broke out.

Safety Louis Delmas, a rookie who has the temerity to play as if he knows what he's doing in this league, started the mini-onslaught with a 101-yard interception return. Considering it often takes the Lions' offense several possessions to traverse such a distance, Delmas's doing it in under 30 seconds was all the more impressive. 17-7 Cardinals.

Not long after, running back Maurice Morris, filling in for the ACL-torn Kevin Smith, boogied into the end zone to the tune of 64 yards---on ONE carry! Very un-Lions-like. 17-14 Cardinals.

Then beleaguered Jason Hanson even made a field goal, and the game was tied, 17-17.

At least the Lions weren't quitting. A Moral Victory was in the air.

The Cardinals went ahead again, 24-17, and the Lions tied it---again. The sweet smell of MV filled Ford Field like Christmas cookies baking in the oven.

Of course, no one in their right mind truly thinks the Lions will win such a contest, so the Moral Victory beckons the faithful. They get high off of it.

The Lions aren't quitting! They're in the game in the closing minutes! Take a deep breath and inhale that!

Then, of course, there's the inevitable collapse into defeat, another one goes under the "L" column, but at least there wasn't embarrassment attached to this latest loss.

Another hallmark of the Moral Victory: escaping humiliation and abject failure.

Speaking of abject failure, a message for Lions QB Daunte Culpepper: Magglio Ordonez called---he wants his throwing arm back.

Culpepper was again ineffective on Sunday, underthrowing receivers---until a Hail Mary just before halftime that sailed thru the uprights---and generally looking like a guy whose NFL career is swirling down the drain. Which it pretty much is.

Watching Culpepper now, trying to portray an NFL quarterback, is like listening to William Hung sing; it's impossible to do without making a face and turning away in dread.

Culpepper is done. Finished. History. Somewhere, a television studio and an Armani suit beckons him. Might as well get the graphic ready: DAUNTE CULPEPPER, NFL ANALYST.

If the Lions had any compassion, they'd pull the plug on Daunte today. Cut him and put him out of everyone's misery. He made a gallant effort in the offseason, losing weight and displaying leadership vocally and having a terrific attitude. But the guy just can't play anymore. Even Johnny Unitas soiled his legacy, stumbling around in a San Diego Chargers uniform at the end. So it's not unique to Culpepper, this carrying on past your time thing.

The Moral Victory, though, is preferable to the ugly loss, I will grant you that. Less jokes and snide remarks, number one. The players can show their faces in public. The coach doesn't have to rush to the film projector so that he may prepare his indictments and identify the perpetrators.

The MV column is in there, somewhere in the NFL standings. You just have to look for it.

If you can't find it, just let us know. We in Detroit can locate it pretty easily.

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