The Detroit Lions don’t have the greatest playoff track record to rely on historically, but most fans and analysts alike can agree with the notion that the team was cheated during a recent appearance in the postseason.
You can add a current NFL coach to the list of folks who agrees with that sentiment. Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams was recently speaking before his team’s playoff game and was referencing the struggles of quarterback Matthew Stafford winning a postseason game. As the coach said, though, he believes Stafford already has such a win on his resume from 2014 in a roundabout way.
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Referencing the now-legendary blown pass interference call in Dallas, McVay made quite the admission. As he said via John Niyo of the Detroit News, he believes the Lions “probably won” the game that was out of Matthew Stafford’s control.
Here’s a look at McVay going into a more detailed account of his takeaway from that game shared by Peter Schrager of the NFL Network.
“It was a bad call that I am probably going to get fined for even mentioning,” McVay said with a laugh. “Like in all seriousness though, here’s what’s crazy about this game. The narrative is that (Stafford doesn’t have a playoff win), but more than likely, if that call isn’t made, then he probably has won a playoff game and it’s like, did he really play any differently as a result of that? So there’s still so many things that are out of our control, which is why this game will drive you crazy if you’re not careful.”
McVay has been classified as a football genius at nearly every turn, so this admission likely proves it once and for all for legions of Lions fans that still feel the scars from that frustrating afternoon in January 2015.
Though the game doesn’t go down as an official win, it’s certainly nice to know that some league figures unofficially consider it to be one.
Lions Burned During 2014 Wild Card With Questionable Call
With the Lions driving late in the game and clinging to a 20-17 lead, the team elected to keep the pressure on Dallas by throwing the ball on third-down. Detroit was moving the ball well, and seemed to draw a pass interference penalty on tight end Brandon Pettigrew when Anthony Hitchens knocked him to the ground. The flag was initially thrown, but Pete Morelli’s crew ended up picking up the flag much to the disappointment and confusion of the Lions. Here’s a look at the play again:
Stafford, for his part, shows his disbelief on the field, routinely asking for explanations from the refereeing crew. When none are offered to his satisfaction, he is forced to laugh off the call. For the Lions, it was no laughing matter. The team would go on to lose the game 24-20 in their closest brush with an ever-elusive playoff win since the early 1990s.
Lions Have Frustrating Playoff History
Whether they were cheated or not in this particular instance, the Lions have been one of the more miserable teams historically when it comes to the playoffs. Detroit, as the tweet points out, hasn’t won since 1991. It’s not just 1991, however. Prior to that win, the Lions hadn’t won a playoff game since 1957. They had lost three times combined in the 1970s and 1980s. They’ve had plenty of misfortune in the playoffs as well, losing games in heartbreaking fashion and blowout fashion as well.
Detroit last appeared in the playoffs in 2018, but quickly bowed out, losing to the Seattle Seahawks in close fashion. They haven’t been consistent enough through the years at both making the playoffs and also winning when they do manage to get there.
With Dan Campbell taking over and trying to institute a culture flip, the goal is to get to be a team that not only makes the playoffs consistently, but is able to deliver big wins when they get there. That’s the case regardless of what has happened in the past.