The Detroit Lions were on the brink of losing their season when the Carolina Panthers went up 24 to 7 early in the game. With the Lions losing the last 3 out of 4 games, and the undefeated Green Bay Packers only four days away, it looked like their hopes of crashing the playoffs for the first time in a decade were crashing to the ground.
The Lions, worry? Hardly. Gunslinger Matthew Stafford came out with both barrels blazing and finished the game on an amazing 25 for 28 run, and 5 touchdown passes to secure a 49-35 win. That was an extremely important win. With their season on the brink, the Lions didn’t blink, they Kevin Smith‘ed their way to a 7-3 record.
These first-half meltdowns are taking a toll on me. They did every thing they could to get behind. They threw interceptions, lost fumbles, got penalties and to top it off they gave up a kick return for a touchdown. The Lions play like Evel Knievel jumping cars. Jumping over 12 cars isn’t enough, let’s make it more dangerous by jumping over 20 of them. Except for the Chicago game, they have responded to every first half disaster with a second half knockout punch. Every one knows that that isn’t going to work against the Super Bowl Champion Packers. They better run out of that tunnel and head straight for Aaron Rodgers.
Beating the Panthers wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be. They reminded me of the Lions last year; learning how to win. Cam Newton is going to be a star in this league and a force to deal with, but there has to be something said of being the first team in NFL history to overcome 17 point deficits 3 times in one season. The Lions don’t ever quit: I call them “TEAM SWAG” for a reason.
Once the Lions got their game face on, there was no stopping them. Even the smart guys who do yard work during the first half of the game knew that the Panther’s lead against the Lions wasn’t safe as the second half started. Matt Stafford sprayed the ball everywhere in distributing five touchdown passes to five different receivers. Amazing when you consider none of them was named Calvin Johnson.
What was really amazing was the emergence of a real running threat in Kevin Smith. His story should serve as a lesson in perseverance. Even though he had six tryouts with other teams that failed to get him a job, he didn’t hang his head. He kept going to work and was ready when the opportunity came to rejoin the Lions. He ran like an escaped prisoner running for his life. Three weeks ago he was watching games on his couch like the rest of us potatoes. Now he could be the vital cog that the Lions are missing in their drive to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in this league for years.
With the Lions top two running backs out, the opportunity was there for someone to make a name for himself. Kevin Smith WAS prepared for it. You know the old saying-how luck is when preparation meets opportunity? Well, the Lions were lucky that Kevin Smith was prepared for his opportunity, and he ran to the house with it.