In September, the Vikings blew a 20-point lead to the Lions. In December, the Lions nearly blew a 21-point lead to the Vikings.
A 28-7 lead melted into a 34-28 skin-of-the-teeth win for the Lions, with a crazy final play helping the Lions seal the victory.
At first and goal from the Detroit one, on the final snap of an 18-play drive that started at the Minnesota 20 and had just been extended by a scramble from Vikings quarterback Joe Webb on fourth and six, Cliff Avril knocked the ball loose from Webb, who replaced rookie Christian Ponder earlier in the half.
But Webb’s facemask was grabbed and yanked by linebacker DeAndre Levy, with no penalty being called. When the dust settled after the ball was kicked and hit and rolled nearly 50 yards in the other direction, the game was over.
The Vikings have every right to be upset, just as the Packers did after the 2009 wild-card game between Green Bay and Arizona. With the referee so intent in moments like that on watching the ball to ensure that the quarterback’s arm wasn’t moving forward, the referee can miss the quarterback’s head getting spun around.
And since whether or not a guy’s facemask was pulled can’t be reviewed by replay, nothing could be done.
The Vikings fall to 2-11, and the Lions improve to 8-5. And Webb showed enough to make Vikings fans wonder why the team didn’t simply make him the starting quarterback and use the 12th overall pick on Nick Fairley or Ryan Kerrigan or Adrian Clayborn.