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Orlovsky's Safety Scramble: The Most Upsetting Mistake in My Life as a Detroit Lions Fan
Image Source: Tom Dahlin/Getty Images Self-awareness and awareness in general are valuable skills to have in life, and must-haves as a professional athlete. At all times, you need to understand your surroundings.Imagine a golfer using a putter 200 yards away from the green, a soccer player preferring a corner kick over a penalty shot, or a basketball player deciding to take his free throw shot at half-court. These would all be terrible decisions that would put into question an athlete's placement among the best in their sport. This brings me to my choice for the most upsetting mistake in sports.The SeasonTo understand the impact of this single upsetting mistake, you first need to have a grasp on how bad the 2008 NFL season was for the Detroit Lions. Bad, in this instance, is an understatement. The 2008 NFL season was disastrous -- a colossal failure.As a die-hard Detroit Lions fan and season ticket holder, I had high hopes going into the 2008 season (yes, I paid thousands of dollars to watch this team play in-person). We had the best wide receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson and several talented pieces on both offense and defense. In the preseason, the Lions dominated their opponents going 4-0. In the history of the NFL, no team had ever gone undefeated in the preseason and failed to make the playoffs. The Lions broke that record, and they weren't done making history.As a hopeful and misguided fan and writer, I published a blog post declaring that the 2008 Detroit Lions would in fact make the playoffs. That year's team not only missed the playoffs, but they became the first team in NFL history to lose 16 consecutive games, going an imperfect 0-16. The losses hurt, but it was the way they lost these games that stung the most, including a play so bad that it defined their season, a quarterback's career, and is now known as one of the worst plays in NFL history.The Play On October 12, 2008, the Detroit Lions traveled to play the Minnesota Vikings. Due to injuries, the Lions were playing backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who they were confident in to lead the team past the Vikings, or at least keep the game close. The game was scoreless and nearing the end of the first quarter. The Lions had the ball at their own one-yard-line, which is a tricky position to be in that requires the quarterback to make careful decisions to avoid turnovers or a safety, which gives the opponent two points and the ball.Orlovsky took the snap. As he began to step back, he saw star defensive lineman Jared Allen headed his way. Like a lost child, Orlovsky began to run...backwards, out of his own end zone. Despite being out of bounds, the Lions quarterback continued to run as if he was completely oblivious to the fact that he had already cost his team two points and the ball. The play was over, but Orlovsky kept running. The Lions lost 12-10, meaning this play was the difference in the game.I have a vivid memory of yelling through the television at Orlovsky during this boneheaded play. It wasn't until years later that I began to feel sorry for Orlovsky who is now an NFL analyst. The day he retired from the NFL, the ESPN headline read, "Dan Orlovsky, known for taking safety while chased by Jared Allen, retires." Despite playing 12 seasons in the NFL, he was never able to make fans and analysts forget about his blunder.Dan, it's okay. We all make mistakes, and while I still don't know what you were thinking on that play, I'm glad you gave me this memory. After all, mistakes are part of the games we love just as much as the last second touchdowns and game-winning field goals.
NFL playoff race: Chiefs, Rams virtual locks in early projections, Packers on the outside looking in
It's never too early to start thinking about the playoffs. Through five weeks, the playoff picture doesn't look anything like we expected it to look like before the season. The Kansas City Chiefs are a virtual lock to make the playoffs. The Chicago Bears are the frontrunners in the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers are on the wrong side of the bubble. The Baltimore Ravens have better playoff chances than the Jacksonville Jaguars. It's all a reminder that the NFL remains the most unpredictable, chaotic league in sports, which is what makes it so much dang fun. Welcome to our early NFL playoff projections, brought to you by SportsLine's Stephen Oh, who has provided us with every team's playoff percentages and expected win total via SportsLine's simulations. We'll be breaking down the playoff picture below, but first, let's go to the bullet points for some important takeaways. The Chiefs and Rams are the only two teams with a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Ravens, despite dropping to 3-2 with a loss to the Browns, have an 80 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Bengals are ranked below the Chargers in terms of playoff chances. The Steelers' chances, even after they beat the Falcons, are at 34.8 percent. However, Oh pointed out that if they beat the Bengals this week, their percentage will rise above 50. The Browns have hope! They have a 12.5 percent chance of making the playoffs! The Bears, after the Rams and Saints, own the third-best chance of making the playoffs in the NFC at 74.2 percent and their chances of winning the NFC North are at 55.3 percent. The Eagles, despite losing to the Vikings on Sunday, still have a 50.6 percent chance of making the playoffs thanks to their inferior competition in the NFC East. The Packers' and Vikings' playoff projections are both around 30 percent. Oh's simulations actually give the Lions a higher expected win total (only slightly) than the Packers and Vikings. Below you'll find our playoff projections using projected wins. The first four seeds represent division winners while the final two spots are reserved for wild card teams. All projections are from SportsLine's simulations. AFC playoff projection Projected wins in parenthesis 1. Chiefs (12.3), AFC West champion At 5-0, the Chiefs are already running away with the AFC West. It's still early, but this week's game against the Patriots might just decide home-field advantage in the playoffs. What NFL picks can you make with confidence in Week 6? And what Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has beaten 98 percent of experts over the past two years. 2. Patriots (10.8), AFC East champion After a slow start, the Patriots are still projected to win the awful AFC East and wind up with double-digit wins. A win over the Chiefs would cement their status as the conference's top team, despite the sudden rise of Patrick Mahomes. 3. Ravens (10.4), AFC North champion The Ravens just lost to the Browns in overtime, but they're 3-2 with a plus-55 point differential. They have plenty of competition with the 4-1 Bengals, who already beat the Ravens earlier this season, looking strong. 4. Jaguars (9.3), AFC South champion They can't let Blake Bortles throw the ball 60-plus times again, but the Jaguars shouldn't panic after getting blown out against the Chiefs. They need Leonard Fournette to get healthy. The good news is that the Titans got upset by the Bills, so the Jaguars still look like the best team in the division.