Lions still looking up at defending champ Packers
The most exciting thing about the Lions’ 24-13 victory over the Bears on Monday Night Football wasn’t Jahvid Best’s(notes) 88-yard touchdown burst or Matthew Stafford’s(notes) 73-yard scoring pass to Calvin Johnson(notes). It wasn’t that Barry Sanders took the field before the game as the home team’s honorary captain or that Kid Rock roamed the locker room after the game as Motown’s celebrity mascot.
The real excitement came from watching the 67,861 fans at Ford Field release years of pent-up energy as the Lions improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1956. Their raucous roar was a mixture of cautious chest-thumping, giddy disbelief, bubbling bravado – and a whole lot of genuine appreciation.
Yes, Detroit, you finally have a football team. Now sit back as my colleagues and I crank up the hype machine and enjoy the ride for all it’s worth.
Not that we don’t have plenty of help from the men in Honolulu blue. As Lions receiver Nate Burleson(notes) told the Detroit News after Monday’s victory, “We’re a resilient bunch. There are times this season we could have packed it in but we’re a different group. We’ve matured and been through enough trials and tribulations. Now it’s time for us to be at the top of the mountain.”
[ Yahoo! Sports Radio: Ndamukong Suh enjoys Lions’ spotlight ]
Technically, that may be true: Detroit is one of the league’s two remaining undefeated teams, along with the defending champion Packers. Should the NFC North rivals continue to win in advance of their meeting at Ford Field on Thanksgiving, it will be one of the coolest holiday spectacles in recent memory, delighting everyone but the ’72 Dolphins.
If the Lions have the league’s best record after that game, we’ll talk. Until then, they’re not quite at the top of the mammoth mountain known as 32Q, which is even steeper and more treacherous to traverse than K2 for you non-adventure buffs.
For now, they’re sitting comfortably in the five-hole, three spots above the rising team they host on Sunday, and four behind the leaders of the Pack. It’s not that I don’t think they’re good – I simply think their play has been a bit uneven and sloppy at times, and I worry that a good, disciplined defense could make them one-dimensional.
[ Related: Urlacher frustrated with Bears’ defense ]
This opinion, I suspect, will make me slightly less popular than Kid Rock and Barry Sanders in the Motor City. And though I’ve been singing the Lions’ praises since coach Jim Schwartz’s arrival and have picked them to win every game so far this season, I have a distinct feeling that I’m about to be shouted down by 67,861 people, or at least those of them that still have voices.
Well, bring it on – after all, I do enjoy that roar:
3. Baltimore Ravens: How many Sheets Energy Strips will Ray Rice(notes) have to ingest to join Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as a 1,000/1,000 back – and will he or LeBron James become the first investor in the company to win a ring?
4. New Orleans Saints: Wouldn’t it have been far more interesting had Saints radio broadcaster Jim Henderson revealed his dislike for tight end Jeremy Shockey(notes) while Shockey was still with the team?
5. Detroit Lions: How cool is it that someone is secretly turning the helmets of vanquished opponents upside down on the wall outside the Lions’ locker room – and is it possible the mystery perpetrator is Matt Millen?
9. Houston Texans: If Matt Schaub had avoided being called a choker by Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly(notes) and run for the end zone on the final play of Sunday’s game against the Raiders, would the Texans quarterback have been called “a dude in need of oxygen” by onrushing safety Tyvon Branch(notes)?
[ Yahoo! Sports Radio: Troy Polamalu on lessons of Super Bowl loss]
15. San Diego Chargers: When Shaun Phillips(notes) proclaims, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” is he referring to Donovan McNabb(notes), Matt Cassel(notes), Chad Henne(notes), Matt Moore(notes), Kyle Orton(notes), Tim Tebow(notes) or all of the above?
22. Carolina Panthers: When Shockey declared that “no one takes losses worse than me” as an explanation for not shaking hands with his ex-Saints teammates Sunday, was he including this guy … or this one … or this one?
23. Cleveland Browns: When Browns president Mike Holmgren gave Evan Moore(notes) a contract extension following the tight end’s impressive training camp, did rookie coach Pat Shurmur not get the memo?
30. Indianapolis Colts: After going “balls to the wall” in support of Curtis Painter(notes), do you think Reggie Wayne(notes) is miffed that the young quarterback’s favorite target is Pierre Garcon(notes)?
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