Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Lions’ 2011 season comes to an end after a 45-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
While this season comes to an end, this really is a beginning in a lot of ways. Today’s NFL is a quarterback driven league and there is no doubt that Matthew Stafford (remember, he’s just 23) is the right man to lead the for the next ten to fifteen years. He has a pretty good resource at his disposal in Calvin Johnson. His 211 receiving yards was more than any other receiver has had in a playoff debut.
The fact that the Lions were able to earn their way into the playoffs thanks to their play rather than backing through receiving others combined with the way Stafford and Johnson performed down the stretch has to carry some excitement into 2012. In his last four games, Calvin Johnson has 214, 102, 244 and 211 receiving yards respectively. The Lions offense is already exciting to watch and they still have room to grow.
The difference tonight was that the Lions defense just wasn’t able to stop, and sometimes even slow, the Saints offense. It isn’t surprising that a team just three years removed from an 0-16 season has some issues and they showed themselves in a big way. Drew Brees had his way with the Lions secondary for 466 yards and three touchdowns. It’s an area the Lions will have to address if they want to find themselves on the other side of result like this.
The New Orleans Saints are the better team and there’s no shame in saying that. Detroit is relevant in football discussions again and the Lions are well positioned to keep progressing. That’s what this season was always going to be about for me. A fanbase that has been so willing to buy into fools gold finally has some concrete reasons to put their trust in this team and its leadership. This season is over but this era of Detroit Lions football is just beginning.