(DETROIT, MI) -- If Lions' tight end Mikhael Ricks lays out, maybe it's a different result. "It was right down the tips of my fingers and everything. That's one of the catches you have to make. I've made 'em before in games."
With the Lions trailing 37-31, rookie quarterback Joey Harrington threw a beautiful ball down the middle of the field that only Ricks, in man coverage, could catch. Instead, the former wide reciever converted to tight end, attempted a finger-tip catch that fell just long.
Detroit went right back to the play and Ricks ran out of gas, the ball fell into the hands of safety Todd McBride giving Detroit a 37-31 loss.
Despite the result, this was Harrington's coming out party. Harrington gave the Lions fans a great show and got some help from his teammates and the coaching staff. Detroit started the game with a bit of trickery. After trading three and outs, rookie Eddie Drummond's handed off a punt return to fellow wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, who burst through the Packers special teams for a 72-yard touchdown, giving the Lions a 7-0 lead and electrifying the crowd.
Harrington got a bad break when his pass, intended for Ricks, was tipped into the hands of Marcus Anderson who took the ball 78-yards for a touchdown, tying the game at seven. But the quarter ended with Favre and the Packers on the move. They finished the drive when Favre hit Donald Driver from 21 yards out to give Green Bay a 14-7 lead. A Jason Hanson 33-yard field goal got the Lions to within 14-10.
The atmosphere in the dome seemed to rattle Brett Favre, who was nearly picked off, not once but twice in the next drive and the Packers settled for a Ryan Longwell 46-yard field goal to make the score 17-10. The Lions did not wilt as Harrington, under pressure, moved outside the pocket and threw a beautiful strike to Lamont Warren running free down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown and suddenly, the Lions were tied at halftime 17-17.
The Packers really were able to open a lead by converting on third down. The Packers converted three third down opportunities including Favre's 8-yard touchdown pass to Robert Ferguson to give the a Packers 24-17 advantage.
On the Lions next possession, Harrington aired it out -- intended for Hakim -- but was intercepted by Mike McKenzie to give the ball back to Green Bay. After another third down conversion, Favre hit Bubba Franks to give Green Bay a fourteen point advantage. Ryan Longwell's 34-yard fourth quarter field goal gave the Packers their biggest lead.
That's when Harrington started the comeback attempt. Harrington started the drive by hitting Ricks for 38 yards. Another first down came on a 26-yard catch by Hakim. Harrington went for it all and got a very close pass interference call in the endzone, setting Detroit up at the one-yard line. Full back Cory Schlesinger pounded it in to cut the lead to ten.
After a Green Bay drive stalled, Harrington got it back and quickly moved Detroit into scoring position. With just 1:52 left, Harrington hooked up with James Stewart on a screen pass and Stewart rambled through the Packer secondary for a 52-yard toucdown to get Detroit to within 37-31. Detroit then shot themselves in the foot. After a beautifully executed onside kick that was recovered by Az-Zahir Hakim, Lions linebacker Chris Claiborne was ruled offsides. Detroit was forced to rekick. Green Bay recovered, but could not move the football.
That set up Detroit last drive that went just off the finger tips of Ricks.
Despite the loss, Harrington remained adamant that the Lions were still positive.
"Did you see what we did? We were down 17 points with eight minutes left in the football game. If you walked up and down that sideline you will see fifty-four guys -- or however many guys an NFL roster carries -- about 54 guys who believed we could still win the football game. There was nobody hanging their head, there was nobody doubting. Everybody on that team was ready to get back on that field again," Harrington said.
There seems to be some magic in the hands and the words of this kid. Perhaps Bill Walsh was right, maybe they are about to turn the corner.