The Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions was an agonizing, emotionally draining experience. That goes for the players, the TV audience, and those who were there live in Ford Field. Ironically, the Houston Texans found themselves in another overtime situation merely four days after an overtime victory against the Jaguars in Houston.
Regardless of whether the AFC-leading Texans should have been in this position again, it happened and again, they got out of it. To say that the game was a good one is a stretch. It was unbelievable, painful, and epic to say the least. But at least it had a little bit of everything. At times, it felt like either the twilight zone or a never ending movie. For that reason, the game’s highlights and lowlights can be summed up with four memorable quotes from the silver screen.
“Say Hello To My Little Friend” (Scarface, 1983)- The bad boy of the Detroit Lions was at it again. During Thursday’s game, lineman Ndamukong Suh rolled to the ground in front of Texans QB Matt Schaub and introduced his foot to Schaub’s groin. A close look at the incident suggests intentional misbehavior by the lineman who is known for playing dirty. Just last year in the Thanksgiving matchup, Suh stomped on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm and received a two game suspension as a result. Apparently Suh attended the Dez Bryant School of Maturity. The NFL will consider disciplinary action against Suh for Thursday’s incident and will consider his past history according to NFL Executive VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson. Suh declined to comment on the situation, choosing to avoid the media after the game. When asked, Schaub responded that he didn’t “have anything to say about that play or that person.”
Houston, We Have a Problem (Apollo 13, 1995) – Although the Texans pulled out a victory, they did not walk away unscathed. Adding to existing injury concerns, LBs Brooks Reed (groin) and Bradie James (hamstring) both left Thursday’s game with injuries. RT Derek Newton also left the game with a knee injury. All three players underwent MRIs on Friday morning. Consider that the Texans entered the game without LB Brian Cushing (ACL tear), RB Ben Tate (hamstring), CB Johnathan Joseph (hamstring), NT Shaun Cody (back), and LB Tim Dobbins (shoulder). Thankfully for the Texans, they have ten days until their next game at Tennessee. But the team is certainly hurting, especially with Joseph’s absence. CB Alan Ball was asked to do the impossible and cover WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Over and over, Ball got beat. Without Joseph, an already inconsistent secondary is left exposed and vulnerable. An unhealthy defense is the worst thing that could happen to the Texans, especially with a tough Monday night matchup at the Patriots in week 14.
“You Can’t Handle The Truth” (A Few Good Men, 1992) – By far, “Flag-gate” was the most memorable and bizarre part of the game. RB Justin Forsett ran for an 81 yard touchdown in the third quarter which allowed the Texans to stay in the game and ultimately force overtime. Thinking that Forsett was down, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz hastily tossed the coach’s challenge flag, thus negating the automatic review of the scoring play and drawing a 15 yard penalty. Forsett was clearly down, but the officials did not whistle the play dead. Forsett made a heads up play and continued to run. NFL rules provide that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed unless a coach challenges the play. However, scoring plays are not challengeable. Certainly the NFL will revisit this rule, but for now, everyone is left scratching their heads. Lions fans, unable to accept the missed call, the touchdown or the penalty, instantly became hostile and will likely be trying to figure this one out for weeks.
“Run Forrest, Run” (Forrest Gump 1994) – With the growing hostility of the Lions fans following Flag-gate, traveling Texans fans took the opportunity to sit down, shut up, and run like hell after the overtime victory. Pockets of Texans fans peppered the stadium and cheered vigorously during the first two and one-half quarters of football. The cheers became quieter once Detroit police officers began escorting angry Lions fans out of the stadium. As if on cue, Texans fans took the hint and seemed to dial back the excitement if for nothing than for personal safety. Once Texans kicker Shayne Graham kicked the game winning field goal in overtime, Texans fans, including this writer, headed quick fast and in a hurry towards the exits. Quite a twilight-zone-esque end to an otherwise wild win for the Texans on Thanksgiving.