Everybody has their own opinion on what the greatest Detroit Lions game of all time is. Today I want to go into great depth about my choice.
To do so we have to go back in time to 2013. My wife and I looked over the schedule when it came out, trying to find the right game to go to that our friends would also like to accompany us to. We had this crazy idea that we could pull off renting a party bus and cramming 40 people on board for a three hour trip to Detroit. The game that peaked everyone’s interest was a meeting with the Dallas Cowboys on a Sunday afternoon in October. We managed to get this massive party bus that had all the trimmings. Including a booming stereo, a very necessary bathroom and an on board bar. We managed to gather 40 people, some of which we didn’t even know. We set the date, everyone got off work. It couldn’t have gone any better.
Keep in mind this all took place before I had made the decision that I was going to go all in on journalism. I had put that all off after college and had been working at Lowe’s for going on six years at the time and I was making decent money. But then just a week before the big game, I was fired from that job. We found ourselves in a place we hadn’t been in before. Money was tight and we contemplated not going at all. We made a conscious decision that despite our fear of the unemployed unknown that I had entered, we were going to have this one last good time for a while.
October 27th came around and everyone met in the parking lot of the local Meijer at 7AM with beer coolers in tow. We hopped on and turned on the radio and commenced drinking way to early in the day. 90’s jams from Naughty by Nature, Notorious B.I.G, Digital Underground and Tribe Called Quest, among others, blasted through the stereo on the drive. Some drank too much, others waited for after the game. We spent a great deal of the trip harassing the one Dallas Cowboys fan that was brave enough to make the trip with us.
Once we arrived, the party continued untill it was time to head to Ford Field and take our respective seats. We had no idea what we were about to witness when we handed our tickets to staff out front. My wife and I headed to our seats only to find that we had somehow picked the only section in Ford Field that was predominantly Cowboys fans. I chatted some of them up naturally, only to get responses like “Dez is gonna show everyone today that he’s better than Calvin” or “Calvin is overrated.” There was a group of female twenty-somethings two rows back that came in their pink Tony Romo jerseys and screamed from the beginning of the game to the end. They were the type of fans that you wanted to see emotionally hurt at the end of the day. Lastly there was gentlemen with a crew cut and Cowboys jersey that was exceptionally belligerent the entire day as well.
The game got started and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The Lions were coming off a tough loss to the Bengals the week before and desperately needed to go into the bye week with a win. The game started as a back and forth defensive battle until late in the first quarter when the Lions struck first blood on a Calvin Johnson touchdown. From there Stafford threw the first of his two interceptions in the second quarter and the Cowboys rattled off 10 points before halftime.
In the second half is where things got crazy. Reggie Bush fumbled, then Calvin Fumbled, then Stafford threw his second interception. Meanwhile the Cowboys had out scored the Lions 17-10 so far in the second half and the game was coming to a close. Reggie Bush was able to get in the endzone with a little over three minutes left and the Lions found themselves down 27-24 until the Cowboys sucked up the clock and then committed the most important penalty of the game when they got called for holding on a play that could have put the Lions away had it held up. The Cowboys kicked their last field goal of the game and went up 30-24 with 1:02 left.
One minute and two seconds was all that was left in what seemed like a crappy trip to Detroit, followed by an uncomfortably somber ride home with 39 other people. My wife squeezed my hand and asked if the Lions could pull something off? I gave her the old “the games not over till it’s over” spiel. On the inside I knew it was over. The girls from two rows back are screaming “woo!!! Detroit sucks!!!” Crew cut is running up and down the aisle taunting Lions fans. The arena began to clear out. Some of the friends that came with us had already made their way back to the bus and accepted defeat. Then the drive began. Stafford started it out by hitting Reggie for no gain. Then he connected with Calvin for 17 yards. Then a spike to stop the clock with 42 seconds left. Then Matthew Stafford threw the prettiest pass he’s probably ever thrown in his career to an open Kris Durham who had three receptions for 14 yards before catching this beauty and racking up an extra 40. Then something happened that words can’t properly describe. So here’s a video.
Seriously you couldn’t have written it any better. I ran a few rows down and grabbed the first Lions fan I could find and bear hugged him. If you’re that guy, sorry if that was weird. I went back to my seat and my wife is crying her eyes out. An elderly lady next to her asked her what was wrong and she could only reply with “we needed this.” After losing my job and fretting all week about what we were going to do, we simply needed a win in life. We needed something spectacular to happen. For us this was it. It was also another reminder of how the simplest things in life like a football game can be so beautiful at times and ultimately change your life. It was an awkward sign that it was time to stop wasting time and take the plunge into the career I had always wanted to do.
Don’t worry. I made sure to turn to the screaming girls from two rows back and ask “what now?” they looked so disappointed. The only other thing I could say was “I looked like you a minute ago.” On the way out we saw crew cut crying in the parking lot while his wife held him. Meeting back at the bus, everyone was going crazy. We of course had to give crap to the guys that left the stadium prematurely and never got to see what happened. It didn’t really register with anyone that Calvin Johnson had just amassed 329 receiving yards. At least not till later. We were too busy singing We Are The Champions at the top of our lungs. We of course also had no idea the Lions would have such a poor second half to the season and miss the playoffs after having a chance to win the division.
It was just overall one of the best days of my life. Not necessarily just because of a football game. But also because of the gathering of friends and family for what really was a special thing to do with that many people. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to top that moment at another event. I just don’t know if that is possible. What’s your greatest game? Were you at this one? leave your comments below or feel free to chat with me about it on Twitter @SLR_Mike.