Lions return man Stefan Logan discusses with an official (not shown) whether he called for a fair catch in the first half Saturday night against the Falcons at Ford Field in Detroit. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News)
Allen Park — Just when you thought you'd seen it all as a Lions fan, Stefan Logan catches a free kick and takes a knee at the 4-yard line.
This season has been one long Twilight Zone episode, one absurd, mind-boggling, head-slapping, bizarre moment after another.
Week 3 in Tennessee, the Lions are on the verge of staging one of the great comebacks in history. They are driving for the winning touchdown in overtime, fourth down and inches. The plan is to draw the Titans offside and then take a timeout. Only center Dominic Raiola didn't get the memo and quick-snapped the ball to an unsuspecting Shaun Hill.
Play failed, game over.
"I've been around a lot of crazy games, but I don't think I've ever been around one like that," Schwartz said.
He hasn't been here long enough. For every crazy play this year, there is at least one other in the inglorious history of this franchise to match it.
Raiola's quick snap had the same effect as Don Muhlbach's bad snap in a 2004 loss to the Vikings. The Lions appeared to be sending the game into overtime after a late touchdown catch by Roy Williams, but Muhlbach bounced the snap, the extra point was missed and the Lions lost 28-27.
This year, the Lions' special teams gave up four return touchdowns in two games, a punt and a kick return to the Titans in Week 3, and the same to the Vikings in Week 4. That was unprecedented in the history of the NFL.
But, that was not the first time we've gotten our hearts broken by a kick return.
Flashback to Thanksgiving Day, 1980. Great game between the Lions and Bears; hard-fought, a typical black-and-blue division game. It goes to overtime. Before many could get another plate of food and settle back in, Dave Williams took the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Sudden death, indeed.
Week 11 against the Packers was when the craziness with Titus Young began in earnest. He was lining up in the wrong spots, trying to move other receivers around at the line of scrimmage — just being a complete distraction.
That led to a paid leave, which culminated in one of the most odd and uncomfortable news conference's ever, which ultimately and finally led to him being placed on the injured list.
The Young incident certainly has its rivals in Lions history. Who remembers defensive end Alonzo Spellman, haunted by the demons of bipolar disorder, wandering on a freeway overpass?
Or, how about the famous Tatum Bell-Rudi Johnson episode? Bell was released and Johnson signed and they wound up in the locker room at the same time. Johnson left his luggage unattended and security cameras later showed Bell swiping it.
In that same loss to Green Bay, network television cameras caught receivers coach Shawn Jefferson shouting at offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. That turned out to be a non-issue but the Lions have had their share of assistant coach oddness, as well.
Who remembers Joe Cullen's naked ride through a Wendy's drive-through a few years back?
Week 12 against the Texans brought us another fond Thanksgiving Day memory — the challenge flag.
The Lions were in control, up by 10 points with 7:03 left in the third. On second-and-10 from their own 19, Texans running back Justin Forsett appeared to be tackled at the 26. Replays clearly showed both his knee and elbow hitting the ground after contact. But the whistle never blew and Forsett got up and ran 81 yards to the end zone.
All scoring plays are automatically reviewed, but in his haste, Schwartz threw the challenge flag onto the field. By doing so, he incurred a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and that penalty negated the review.
"I know the rule," Schwartz said. "You can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted. He was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown.
"I cost us a touchdown."
Dumbest coaching move in franchise history? Hold on. Let's go back to 2002 on a windy day at Soldier Field. Again, the game goes into overtime. The Lions won the coin toss, but head coach Marty Mornhinweg elected to take the wind and not the ball. A sound strategy unless the Bears march down the field, score and win the game without you ever getting possession of the ball.
In that loss to the Texans, by the way, kicker Jason Hanson had a chance to get his coach off the hook. But his 47-yard field goal attempt in overtime hit the upright.
There is plenty of precedent for that particular brand of heartbreak, too, in Lions lore. The one that sticks out the most was Eddie Murray's miss in the 1983 playoff loss to the 49ers. He had kicked a 54-yarder earlier in the game and needed a 43-yarder with 11 seconds left to send the Lions to the next round. Doink.
And that brings us back around to Logan's brain cramp Saturday night. What rivals that?
We'll go back to the glorious 0-16 season of 2008 when a certain backup quarterback named Dan Orlovsky took the snap on a third-and-10 play from his own 1 and promptly rolled to his right and ran out of the back of the end zone.
Listen, as a Lions fan, the one thing you can never say is, "I don't think I've ever seen something like that before." Unless you are talking about the Lions playing in the Super Bowl, you probably have.