Center Dominic Raiola, on where this win ranks for him since he was drafted by the Lions back in 2001: “It’s probably my best win, ever. It’s bigger than Cleveland at home [2009, a game the Lions won 38 - 37]…..in fact, there’s no other big win……not bigger than this.”
Head Coach Jim Schwartz – at his Monday press conference in Allen Park – on if he agreed with Raiola, and thought that this was the biggest win since he came to the Lions: “It means a little bit more, because it’s a divisional game and a road game……..but it’s hard to……[pause]. I think I said a couple of years ago that we didn’t need to throw ticker tape parades over regular season wins, and I think I still feel that way.”
Here’s my opinion of 4 other big wins for the Lions since 2001:
9/12/2004: Lions 20, Chicago 16. This win snapped a 24-game road losing streak, and – at the time – signalled what seemed like the beginning of a turnaround under then-Head Coach Steve Mariucci and then-starting quarterback Joey Harrington. In fact, Detroit got off to a 4 and 2 start that year, winning road games against Atlanta and the New York Giants, before devastating close losses to Minnesota, Jacksonville and Green Bay – plus a Thanksgiving Day blowout by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts – sped the Lions to eight losses over the season’s final 10 games.
11/04/2007: Lions 44, Denver 7. A dominating performance by the Lions defense [including Shawn Rogers and DeWayne White] was key in beating a Broncos team that had gone 9 and 7 the previous year. It improved Detroit’s record to 6 and 2, and had players – and fans – thinking playoffs. A 1 and 7 finish to the season, however, crushed those dreams.
11/22/2009: Lions 38, Cleveland 37. Forever remembered – thanks to NFL Films – as the Stafford game, as Matthew Stafford – with an injured shoulder – threw a 1 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pettigrew to win the game for the Lions. It cemented Stafford’s status as one of the leaders in Detroit’s locker room – a role he holds to this day. It was also just one of two wins by the Lions in Jim Schwartz’s first year as Head Coach.
12/19/2010: Lions 23, Tampa Bay 20. This win broke a 26-game road losing streak for the Lions, and triggered a road winning streak that’s still going to this day. Since this win, Detroit has won at Miami, at Tampa Bay [again] and now at Minnesota. It also was a loss that kept the Bucs from making the playoffs, which opened the door for the team that eventually won the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers [a team the Lions had beaten just one week earlier].