Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Lions, the cardiac cats, really love to toy with the health of their loyal fans. Heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and indigestion were hitting Lions’ fans like The Plague in Sunday’s fourth quarter. But instead of heading to WebMD, fans kept their seats and watched their team seal the victory in nerve-wracking, but exhilarating fashion. The 21-19 win capped the first season sweep against the Chicago Bears since 2007.
Lions In First Place
That is all. That subhead speaks for itself.
In many cases, when teams that have been bad for so long are starting to win with more frequency, it ain’t pretty. In their last three games, the outcome was in doubt until the game’s final minutes. While it can be awfully uncomfortable watching games like this when your team’s fate hangs in the balance, it is certainly better than turning to the RedZone Channel after the first possession of the third quarter as the Lions are getting their faces beat in, something we’ve grown accustomed to in the past.
With each positive, the Lions would do something terrible. The final drive was full of ups and downs. Nick Fairley‘s personal foul on Josh McCown was the epitome of dumb things the Lions have done in the Jim Schwartz-era. Horrible coverage allowing the late Chicago score was followed by the great pass protection on the failed two-point conversion. Only a helmet-to-helmet call from Willie Young on McCown gave them another shot, this time from the one-yard line.
Has Chicago tied it, gone into overtime and won–Twitter feeds and football highlight shows would be awash in “Same Old Lions” talk. Yet redemption was there when Fairley atoned for his earlier bonehead play by burying Matt Forte and preserving the win.
This is what the Same Old Lions never did in the past–they never atoned for earlier mistakes. They did on Sunday, and it propelled them into first place, all by themselves.
Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Two things happened that rarely happen for the Lions–they deferred and received the second half kickoff and beat a division rival on the road.
The first is a bit of a joke, the second is all too serious. Since 2008, and prior to Sunday, the Lions were 1-15 in divisional road games, beating only Minnesota in 2011.
What’s more, the Lions have established themselves, a dome team, capable of going on the road in cool conditions and winning. They did it in Cleveland last month and they did it in Chicago yesterday. They improved to 3-2 away from home, which is impressive considering how road-heavy the first half of the schedule has been.
Take THAT Chicago
While personally I hate Green Bay more than Chicago (because of their sheer dominance over the Lions for decades), a season sweep against the Bears is awfully sweet. The Lions and Bears have been fierce rivals forever–but the last few years that rivalry has really gone to another level with Chicago players publicly stating their hatred for Lions’ players and accusing them of being cheap shot artists.
There is also that Chicago-Detroit rivalry that is particularly bitter in every sport and always sweet when the “good guys” come out on top.
- The Lions were able to grind out a road victory against a bitter rival without a stellar effort from Matthew Stafford. He seemed a bit off and out of sync, which was seen in full force with his interception that nearly went back for a touchdown. That mistake would have completely changed that game had the defense not held the Bears to a field goal (thanks to the irony of the “Calvin Johnson Rule” working to the Lions favor at Soldier Field). Yet when Stafford needed to be money, he was when he completed the 19-yard touchdown pass to Calvin on third and long that put Detroit up by eight points with just minutes to play.
- A hearty thanks for helping with this win goes to Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman, for steadfastly refusing to remove his injured quarterback. And, while they weren’t producing on the ground, they largely gave up on a great back in Forte and stopped trying to run, forcing an injured player to do everything. Had McCown been in the game the entire second half? Who knows, but maybe Chicago would have stood a better chance at winning.
- I may be in the minority among Lions’ fans who want company at 0-16, but I was happy to see Jacksonville win and avoid a winless season. I also hope that Tampa Bay gets a win tonight against Miami and gets that monkey off their back. As a lifelong Lions’ fan, I wouldn’t wish 0-16 on anyone.
- Well, okay, I’d wish 0-16 on Bears’ fans.
Until next week, fellow Lions’ slappies. Enjoy.
GIF via Cork Gaines on Twitter (@CorkGaines)