The Detroit Lions’ 2010 season began with supreme disappointment and ends with euphoric hope.
It has become our custom to hand out game balls to the top performers each Sunday. Today will be no different although some of them may have a bit of a year-long tone to them. It is a shame the season has to end now that the Lions are on a roll but at least we can feel much more confident that some major questions have been answered.
Here are this week’s game balls:
Nate Burleson – With Calvin Johnson a non-factor due to injury the Lions were looking for someone to step up and it turned out to be Nate Burleson. I’d be remiss not to mention the contributions from Bryant Johnson but it was Burleson that really stepped up. He was tied with Tony Scheffler for the team lead with six receptions. It was Burleson who caught a touchdown pass late in the first half to put them up by ten at the break. It was also Burleson that grasped the onside kick that ended the Vikings’ hopes.
Ndamukong Suh – This is a combination game ball and year ball. The fact that this was a pretty typical game for Suh shows just how much of a freak he really is. Four tackles and a sack finished up a productive rookie year that exceeded most expectations. Suh finishes with ten sacks on the year, just half a sack short of the all time rookie sack record for defensive tackles. The best news of all is that he will be here a very long time.
Jim Schwartz – The coaching staff took some heat early in the year but stayed the course and did everything in their power to produce wins now. Beyond the resolve to finish out the year strong, the team exhibited a great response to success. Rather than allowing themselves to be satisfied with a three game winning streak they came out and finished the job by winning their last four games. At no point did complacency set in. That doesn’t happen without great leadership and that starts at the top with head coach Jim Schwartz.
Dave Rayner – I’m a big Jason Hanson fan but Dave Rayner has done everything he needed to do to ensure that we didn’t miss Hanson after he landed on IR. His 55-yard field goal got the Lions on the board first and another strong day today probably locked up a roster spot for Rayner somewhere in the NFL next year. Congratulations and thanks for a job well done.