Sports Sideshow

Casual football fans tend to look down on place kickers. It’s easy when most are balding and when they play with single-bar facemasks.

But reliable place kickers are important to every football team. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

That’s what happened to the Detroit Lions Sunday. Kicker Jason Hanson, the team’s lone bright spot in the black hole of a decade this has been for the Lions, tweaked his knee enough to keep him from kicking the extra point following a Detroit touchdown. The player pressed into emergency kicking duty?

It wasn’t punter and obvious choice Nick Harris, who holds the ball for Hanson on kicks and wears his dinky little kicking helmet with pride just like Hanson does. It was rookie defensive tackle and quarterback hunter Ndamukong Suh.

It’s not like coach Jim Schwartz initiated a game of “eeny meeny miney mo” with the three players nearest him at the moment to decide who the guy would be. Suh’s dad played soccer and his sister is a Cameroonian national soccer player. Suh himself played soccer as a child before focusing on football.

He put a good swing on the ball, but he bounced it off the right upright. No goal.

As is so often the case when a taken-for-granted extra point is missed, the Lions desperately missed it.

Trailing by only 10 instead of 11, the New York Jets were able to play conservatively. They didn’t need to try a two-point conversion, and they only needed a field goal to send the game into overtime instead of needing a touchdown to win on their last drive.

New York took advantage and won 23-20 in the extra period.

The Lions have played good football this year, nearly shocking Chicago and Green Bay, and have Detroit football fans rightfully hopeful for the future. Still, in this year filled with so much promise, it’s still not surprising to see this team find yet another new and exciting way to lose a football game.