For many locally, the Pro Bowl represents a useless exhibition game, and certainly might seem like one of the more pointless among every major all-star contest.
Then again, the Detroit Lions haven’t exactly had an excellent run in the game either considering their recent history, so folks in Detroit haven’t had reason to sit and watch. The Lions have had a hard enough time filling out a roster let alone finding enough impact players to make a difference in any Pro Bowl.
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Sunday night, that changed. Arguably, it was the Lions’ players making the biggest overall impact in the game. Matthew Stafford put on a show for Team Irvin, contributing 316 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception and earning offensive MVP honors. Golden Tate was the leading receiver with two passes for 98 yards, and Glover Quin provided his usual tough defense for Team Carter, picking up five tackles and a defended pass.
In the end, Stafford and Tate’s team won 32-28 thanks to a late touchdown toss from Matt Ryan.
Despite Quin’s defeat, the performance was arguably one of the greatest outputs from a set of teammates in the history of the Pro Bowl. Every Lions’ player excelled, helping their team in unique ways. From that perspective, the game certainly was interesting to watch, as all of the players helped show the nation what made them special individually for the Lions this past season.
At times, it was hard not to think ahead to later in 2015 when watching the action. Though the conclusion of the Super Bowl will eventually usher in the NFL’s long hibernation period, the Pro Bowl should have helped folks get excited for the Lions’ new season already.
In 2014, Detroit served notice that they were a team to be taken seriously in the future. The play of team leaders like Stafford, Tate and Quin was a major reason why. The challenge for the Lions and Stafford now is using the momentum gained from the Pro Bowl to win their own games of significance next season.
Stafford performing well against some of football’s best competition and earning MVP honors is no small potatoes. As quarterback of the Lions, he’s found little reason to be confident in such an atmosphere, considering his miserable record in big games and lack of resume-building accomplishments as a starter.
Stafford performing well against some of football’s best competition and earning MVP honors is no small potatoes. As quarterback of the Lions, he’s found little reason to be confident in such an atmosphere.
From that standpoint, the Pro Bowl triumph should subtly help as a type of springboard professionally for Stafford and the Lions. It could justify that the team has some of the best players in the league, and help Stafford grow some much-needed confidence and swagger despite some notable recent failures. Also worth noting? The fact this was done in Stafford’s first Pro Bowl.
Chuckle if you want. It might not seem like much, but it is something to build upon. Certainly, it beats the alternative of an embarrassing or deflating night.
Most of the time, the Pro Bowl is seen as largely insignificant. For Stafford and his cast of Lions’ stars, however, it could merely be the next major step towards learning how to make new waves in 2015.