What a glorious week to be a Detroit Lions fan. 5-0 record, no crippling injuries (touch wood (not THAT kind), rub Buddha’s stomach(s)…Whatever) & a solid win over a division rival on national television with the Tigers losing not long into the match. The Tigers losing doesn’t please me, but the world watching the Lions does!
Coming into this year, I wasn’t liking the Lions popularity, the bandwagon team before anything had happened. All the “experts” giving them a good chance to do something. “9-7” they said. “If Stafford could stay healthy” they said. “They’ve lost their Power back” they said. Despite all the positives and what ifs and negatives, the Lions have prevailed through it all to be 5-0. Sitting pretty at #2 (Damn Packers!) having shown how good they are, what they’re capable of. Showing that when they’re down 24, they don’t give up, they get their arses in gear and pound the opposition into submission before taking back the lead and taking the W. The Lions have exceeded the hype, and yet exceed still seems too inaccurate a word. 3-2 is probably what people had the Lions at before the season kicked off. Hell, even after giving the Patriots a good arse-whipping in the pre-season the hopes weren’t of an undefeated team. But, of course, most of these predictions came from people who spend 95% of their time covering one of the following teams: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys, Pittsburgh & the Cowboys. You get the point. But any level-headed (which I believe I was before the season started, even if my final W-L prediction was higher than most) Lions fan knew they had something special here. They knocked Aaron Rodgers out of a game, and were lead by their 3rd string QB to a monumental victory over a division opponent and the eventual Super Bowl Champions. They won 4 in a row, including back to back road games and 2 division games. This team had momentum, and without all the best pieces.
Just logically thinking, Detroit should’ve been a very good team this season. They get their starting QB back, completely healthy. They had a completely revamped and upgraded LB core. They had an upgrade at CB with the signing of Eric Wright. Amari Spievey was showing a lot of positive signs playing across from Louis Delmas in training camp and pre-season. They had an injury free RB. Another year under Jahvid and Suh’s belts. So to me, the logic would seem to be that they could only greatly improve, which has shown itself quite evidently to this point.
Alright, onto the game.
Detroit was rockin’ on Monday night and I mean as close to literally as you can get without stuff falling over. The Lions crowd induced 9 false start penalties throughout the game by the Bears, which is an unbelievable mark for any team in any stadium. And the Monday Night Football crew often commented on the crowd noise and how hard it was to hear. All of this makes sense, though. The Lions first time on national TV, without people scoffing down turkey and vegetables, was always going to be a major highlight of the season. Detroit knew how big this game was and they showed up for it, both the crowd and the team. The city of Detroit showed what happens when you go primetime for the Lions. And all of it was good.
The Lions offense was shaky to start once again this week. They scored first, though, which is nice. And the defense didn’t give up points on their opening drive for the first time this season. Matthew Stafford had jitters to start and it seems to be something Lions fans are just going to have to get used to, as it’s been a constant to week 6. Stafford eventually found Megatron for a beautiful 73 yard TD throw, which was placed immaculately in front of Calvin to just grab it and take it in for the score.
The player of the night, though, was Jahvid Best. Best exploded for 163 yards and a touchdown. The highlight being his 88 yard burst up the middle, which perfectly showed off his speed. People who were supposedly timing it were coming up with figures like a 4.3 forty yard dash in pads, which is just incredible, considering Best ran a 4.35 at the combine and was coming back from two turf toe injuries. At the same time, though, it makes a bit of sense. This is now Best’s job, so he’d be doing more weights now than he ever did at Cal and all his focus is on improving his game and his speed. Best also had 4 catches for 9 yards. Obviously a much less productive day in that category, but it’s clear he’s a threat whenever his hands touch the football.
As I kind of predicted in the preview, the Bears O-Line is bad and it was pretty evident early on with the Lions D-Line getting unbelievable amounts of pressure when a team wasn’t false starting or jumping offside. Although the Lions only recorded 3 sacks, they were getting constant pressure on Cutler, often just missing him with a swinging arm. To Cutler’s credit, though, he was amazing to watch in the game. Running for his life on almost every down, yet still throwing for 249 yards, only missing on 10 passes, connecting on 28 and the most impressive thing, no INT’s. Of course, it was all for nought in the end, but a very impressive showing, nonetheless.
In the end, though, the Lions won. A monumental victory in the grand scheme of things. Maybe the first true showing of a full-blown turnaround without choking after hitting a possible 8-0 record before their bye.
With week 5 in the books, it’s now onto the San Francisco 49ers at home. A much tougher test than most people, thought. The 49ers have been on a roll of late and look to come into Ford Field and ruin the Lions afterparty.