The most fun team Barry played on?
The question of whether the Lions have ever fielded a ‘fun’ team is a little abstract because Barry was perhaps the greatest runner the game of football has ever seen and you won’t find a fan anywhere, even if they’re one of those misguided fans who would say that Emmitt Smith was better, that didn’t love to watch Barry run.
Yet what about a season that the Lions were exciting and fun even if they didn’t win anything of note? Some may point to the 1991 team that actually achieved the Lions only playoff win since their last championship. Yes, they filled many fans with hope and of course, Barry thrilled every onlooker.
But I propose that perhaps the most ‘fun’ season that Barry played was 1995. After an 0-3 start, two of which could have been won by Detroit, the Lions went on to go 10-3 the rest of the season including winning their last seven games.
They finished in second place behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Central Division as it was called at the time but scored 436 points, the most in team history until that record was broken in 2011. Barry was his usual phenomenal self rushing 1,500 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns.
The real difference that season was the passing game led by quarterback Scott Mitchell. With the feared trio of receivers Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton, Mitchell passed for 4,338 yards with 32 scoring passes and 12 interceptions.
Overall, Mitchell had a very questionable career with the Lions and his play in the 1995 playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles really cemented the Lions loss as he threw one scoring pass compared to four interceptions, but for the regular season, Mitchell turned in the best season of any quarterback that had the luxury of having Barry Sanders in their backfield.
But the season was fun and while the defense was overall pretty good, not great, but pretty good, the Lions were a team to watch. Opponents feared Barry, but couldn’t stop him and the passing game took advantage of it. That was a pretty fun team to watch. Even though one of the lasting memories is a brutal 58-37 pounding by the Eagles in the playoffs.