The Detroit Lions have gone 15-7 over their last 22 games. While 15 wins would have taken about a half decade to accumulate under the former administration, none of the last 15 wins could be considered the Lions signature win – the win that removed all pretender talk and made them a true contender.
Here’s a quick summary of their last 15 wins and where they rank on the “Signature Win (SW)” scale.
#1 Green Bay Packers (Week 14 – 2010) – Honestly, probably the most impressive win during the last 22 games. The Packers would eventually go on to win the Super Bowl and at the time this was an important game for them. Most impressive, the Lions did it with their 3rd string QB starting–Drew Stanton. However, the Lions knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game and the talk regarding this game quickly turned to the Lions beating the Packers without Rodgers, rather than beating the eventual champs. (SW Score: 6)
#2 Tampa Bay Bucs (Week 15 – 2010) – Another victory against a playoff contender. This one, mercifully, ended the years long road futility as the Lions beat the Bucs in OT with Stanton again at QB. However, we quickly learned in 2011 that the Bucs were a fraudulent team. (SW Score: 2)
#3 Miami Dolphins (Week 16 – 2010) – A second consecutive road win against a team that still had playoff hopes. However, like the Bucs, the Dolphins were mediocre at best. (SW Score: 2)
#4 Minnesota Vikings (Week 17 – 2010) – A game the Lions should have–and did–win. It marked the final game of Brett Favre, even though he never took off his goofy winter hat–in a heated dome. (SW Score: 0)
#5 Tampa Bay Bucs (Week 1 – 2011) – A healthy Matt Stafford allowed the Lions to get 2011 off right and proved to be the beginning of the end of the rejuvenated Bucs. (SW Score: 1)
#6 KC Chiefs (Week 2 – 2011) – A very impressive win against a team that was thought to be a sleeper Super Bowl Contender to start 2011. The Lions completely dominated the overrated Chiefs and this might have been the first time that we realized the Lions moved up to the NFL Contender tier. (SW Score: 2)
#7 Minnesota Vikings (Week 3 – 2011) – This game marked the first big comeback of the Matt Stafford era, which has become a mainstay. Calvin Johnson elevated his play as the Lions beat he shell-shocked Vikings in overtime. (SW Score: 3)
#8 Dallas Cowboys (Week 4 – 2011) – Probably the closest thing to a signature win for the Lions. The Cowboys ended up having an underachieving season, but this might have been what started it. The Lions overcame a monster comeback, but ultimately the news was about Tony Romo’s collapse–he threw 2 pick 6s–rather than the Lions miraculous comeback. (SW Score: 7)
#9 Chicago Bears (Week 5 – 2011) – The Lions triumphant return to Prime Time was a showcase victory, but it was a game the Lions should have won. It did, however, establish Ford Field as a tough road venue for the first time. (SW Score: 5)
#10 Denver Broncos (Week 8 – 2011) – The Lions gave Tim Tebow fits–to the dismay of ESPN–and dominated for the first time on the road. Probably the Lions most complete victory of 2011 came against a merely so-so opponent. (SW Score: 3)
#11 Carolina Panthers (Week 11 – 2011) – An extremely fun game, but it amounted to simply a “disaster averted” victory. The Lions should have dominated the game, but were down big in the 2nd quarter. The game marked the return of Kevin Smith as he rolled over a beleaguered Panthers defense. (SW Score: 1)
#12 Minnesota Vikings (Week 14 – 2011) – This time, it was the Lions turn to hold off a big comeback. A missed call by the refs on a Deandre Levy facemask bailed out the Lions and their playoff hopes. Definitely not a game for the highlight reel…but a win regardless. (SW Score: 0)
#13 Oakland Raiders (Week 15 – 2011) – A game that was easily forgotten during the 2011 season, saw another late Lions comeback. This time against a team fighting for their playoff hopes. (SW Score: 2)
#14 San Diego Chargers (Week 16 – 2011) – It seemed that the Chargers were in full late season playoff charge mode when they came to Ford Field and nearly all the experts were picking them. The Lions played with a massive chip on their shoulder and proved the talking heads wrong in a dominant effort. The Chargers were hot coming in and done when they left. (SW Score: 5)
#15 St. Louis Rams (Week 1 – 2012) – This game showed that the Lions were good enough to win, even with a bad effort. Still it was overall a lackluster victory. However, time will tell but the Rams might be better than we thought they’d be. (SW Score: 0)
This week doesn’t give the Lions that opportunity to find a 10 on the Signature Win scale, but they’ve got plenty of good opportunities on the schedule–national games at Chicago and Green Bay and the Thanksgiving game vs. Houston stand out–and until the Lions win one of those games, they’ll never earn the respect of the national media.