DETROIT, Mich. –- Sunday was an all-too familiar scene at Ford Field.
The Detroit Lions were ahead of the Baltimore Ravens in the waning seconds, on the brink of an upset win, before an NFL record-breaking 66-yard field goal from Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker dramatically bounced off the middle of the crossbar and into the net to hand the Ravens an improbable 19-17 victory.
“I just—I don’t even know how to describe it,” first-year Lions coach Dan Campbell explained. “I just—I didn’t think it would make it. I know he can reach it if you kick it low. But you just—if you said that, ‘They’re going to hit a 66-yarder to win the game,’ you’d take those odds. But he made it.”
Tucker’s kick handed the Lions their third straight loss to open the 2021 season. But Campbell and his coaching staff are adamant that this team won’t become viewed as the "Same Old Lions" like so many teams that have struggled in the past.
“About as big of a gut punch as I’ve ever been a part of,” said Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who also experienced the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl LII loss to the New England Patriots. “I guess I’ll start this off by saying that this team, this city has been through a lot, obviously, in recent years and has had these gut punches.
“For me personally, it’s the hardest one I’ve been a part of.”
The new Lions regime and staff have been vocal about not running from the team’s history, which includes no shortage of heartbreaking and bizarre moments.
Sunday's loss to Baltimore is just the latest example. Here are five more that Lions fans will, unfortunately, never forget.
Dempsey's record boot beats Lions: Tom Dempsey’s greatest career moment happened when he booted a then NFL-record 63-yard field goal as time expired to help the New Orleans Saints beat the Lions 19-17 on Nov. 8, 1970 at Tulane Stadium.
Evans, Williams lead Bears' Thanksgiving comeback: Another tough last-second Lions loss came during their 1980 Thanksgiving Day game against the Chicago Bears. Bears quarterback Vince Evans scored on a four-yard run on the final play of regulation to force overtime, when Dave Williams returned the kickoff 95 yards to give the Bears a 23-17 win. The Lions had also led 17-3 in the game at one point.
Calvin's catch that wasn't a catch: Calvin Johnson celebrated what a appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown against the Bears at Soldier Field on Sept. 12 after making a fine leaping grab in the end zone. However, the catch was controversially overruled and marked an incomplete pass, due to what is now dubbed as “The Calvin Johnson Rule” which states that the receiver must have full control of a ball even after hitting the ground. Detroit would go on to lose the game 19-14.
Tucker kicks Lions out of first place: Justin Tucker -- remember him? -- booted a then career-long 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds left to beat the Lions on Monday Night Football on Dec. 16, 2013. His kick went just inside the right upright and barely had enough distance. The Ravens' win had major playoff implications at the time, with the Lions falling from sole possession of first place in the NFC North to third, behind the Bears and Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers' 'miracle' in Motown: In a crushing Dec. 3, 2015 loss, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with Richard Rodgers for a 61-yard Hail Mary as time expired. It was the longest game-winning, game-ending Hail Mary in NFL History, per Elias, and lifted the Packers to a stunning 27-23 victory.