Detroit Lions: Closing thoughts from Sunday’s win at Arizona

Detroit Lions (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Sunday’s last-second win doesn’t erase the various concerns about the direction of the Detroit Lions, but for one week at least, there’s optimism in Motown.

What’s that thing called again? You know, when the Detroit Lions are competing in an athletic contest, and after a designated ending time, the guys in blue and silver finish with a higher number of points than the opposition? It will come to me in a second … right, it’s called winning.

Sorry, but it’s been a long time since I needed to use that section of the dictionary for one of these posts. Eleven months to be exact. The Lions finally exorcised some of their demons with a balanced performance and a 26-23 win on the road over a solid Cardinals team. I’m going to savor it, right up until 12:59 p.m. next Sunday.

Does this mean that all of the mismanagement, dysfunction, and bad luck involving the Lions suddenly goes away now? Obviously not.

One way or another, the chickens are coming home to roost for Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia this season, but that’s not what Sunday’s clutch win over the Cardinals is about. This is about that word, I’ll use it again: Winning –and we don’t take that feeling for granted around here.

What Sunday’s win was about for the Detroit Lions…

  • Matthew Stafford’s 35th career game-winning drive, this one starting from his own nine-yard line and marching the offense into chip shot range as the clock ran down.
  • Matt Prater’s return to clutch, hitting all four field-goal attempts, including the walk-off shot from 39-yards out.
  • Jeff Okudah going toe-to-toe with one of the game’s very best, giving up his fair share, but staying the course and making several big plays.
  • Golladay returning from injury and igniting the offense with six catches and a leaping touchdown in his first action of the season.
  • Hockenson developing into a reliable receiving option, and maybe even a star. Hock has 50+ receiving yards in all three games so far this season.
  • Jesse James coming out of cryogenic freezing to contribute three catches, including a fourth and one touchdown snag in the first half.
  • Marvin Hall’s spectacular 50-yard catch while outracing double coverage, even if it didn’t count.
  • An embattled defense, forcing their first three turnovers of the season and coming up with a fourth-quarter stop to give the offense the ball back.

Most of all, Sunday’s win was about going through yet another nail-biter, and this time finally coming out on the plus side of the win column. It was a team that nearly everyone had already written off entirely, showing us that the 2020 season is just getting started.

Back to .500 in time for the bye week?

The Lions return victorious to Ford Field, where they’ll take on a Saints team with two losses in a row and some tough questions of their own. Following the Chicago game, a lot of people saw an 0-4 record heading into the bye week as the most likely outcome, but as we all know, momentum and perception can change pretty fast in this league.

After all, a month ago I thought that the Vikings should be the head and shoulders favorites to win the division; now at 0-3, Minnesota finds themselves in real danger of being out of the running even before Halloween.

The Lions, on the other hand, found a desperately needed dose of positivity last week and have all their weapons back to face a New Orleans defense that has been just as soft as their own in the early stages of the year.

Making it to the bye week at 2-2 would feel like a clean slate after the disastrous first few weeks, and the Cardinals game shows us that they’re at least capable of turning in a clean and inspired performance for four quarters.

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It’s only one game, and another poor showing would quickly extinguish the newfound optimism in Detroit. For this week at least, we don’t have to worry about that though. For now, just enjoy that the Lions have reacquainted themselves with that word that they’d forgotten about for way too long. Winning.