Sunday, October 19, 2014
2014 Game 7 - Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints @ Home
The 5-2 Detroit Lions barely beat the New Orleans Saints by a score of 24-23 at home today. It was never a sure thing (unless you were sure the Lions were going to lose) and the Saints aren't always all that great on the road, but in the end the Lions did just enough to pull off a win. If you missed the final 4 or so minutes of the game you missed the Lions scoring 14 points to make up for the 2 scores they were behind to seal the deal with their defense. That's right, Brees had time to drive to within field goal range but the Lions (currently #1 ranked) defense (yes, I said DEFENSE) held... eventually getting the ball back to the Lions Offense on downs.
This minor miracle (the win) was performed without the help of Calvin Johnson, or Eric Ebron, or Joseph Fauria, or with tons of yardage. In fact, there was only 59 yards rushing for the Lions in the entire game... and Stafford only threw for 299 yards, completing 27 of 40 (67.5%) with 2 TDs and 2 INTs (1 of which was definitely not his fault). As a group, I would say this team is getting there.
No, they are not a well oiled machine. No, Stafford isn't garnering the attention that a Peyton Manning would. Some would even call the offense boring and semi-predictable for the majority of each game... but you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. Golden Tate had 10 receptions for 154 yards and a TD. The next best player on offense was RB Joique Bell with his 18 rushing attempts for 48 yards and a TD along with 2 catches for 19 yards. Then WR Corey Fuller with 3 catches for 44 yards and a TD. Multiple players are contributing to the win, it's not just Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson any more.
The defense is definitely using the right combination of speed, youth, intelligence and coaching to excel. I was wondering if their #1 rank was earned or a disguise due to them playing poor offenses to date. After watching this game, and despite a few hiccups here and there, I no longer have as many of those kind of doubts. I too am getting there.
The offense still has a ways to go, but if the defense can continue to keep them in the games while the offense grows into their own skin, this team has a chance, no matter how slim, to make some noise in January... as in, the "p" word. It won't be easy, or automatic, and there is still many obstacles to overcome (not the least of which is the upcoming game played in England), but more then one team recently has made noise in the post season with the recipe that begins with a great defense. Before I jinx it I shall say no more on the matter... this week.
Those reading this may have noticed I missed the past couple of weeks of blog entries. My father (Terry Nielsen) passed away during the game two weeks ago and his funeral (up by Mackinaw City) was last Saturday, so needless to say I was unavailable and rather unwilling to write anything. My father taught me a great many things about life, more then I could possibly re-iterate, so I won't get into that in any great detail, but one thing he stressed more then anything else was about planning ahead. Being prepared. These hard fought football games, teammates helping other teammates to win despite whatever comes up, even the next game in England instead of in Atlanta, will go a long way to prepare the Lions for a possible playoff run. They need to take nothing for granted and continue the hard work day after day, game after game, and work together to overcome the next obstacle, because there will always be a "next obstacle". Learning just how to do that and trusting your fellow teammates to help with that is a critical ingredient to having success. In that regard, I think the Lions are indeed getting there.
Posted by NetRat's Lions Blog at 8:25 PM