By Eric Thomas
Do the Lions look like a playoff team? Yes. Could they possibly win the NFC North? They’ve beaten two of the four teams—so yeah, it’s possible. Could the Lions win a playoff game? Could the Lions avoid the federal government shutdown? Could the Lions end the civil war in Syria, free all political prisoners in North Korea, lower gas prices and talk some sense into Miley Cyrus? Why not?
Ford Field felt like a tent revival on Sunday afternoon, with deafening screams and thunderous feet on the concrete below their seats. Wide smiled faces turned to the exits and walked out while their collected cups ran over with balanced offense and opportunistic defense. Some shook a finger at the sight in front of them; they’ve been fooled before, run amok, hornswoggled. The Lions have made us believe before, right before they’ve come clattering down like a set of stacked plates on an unsteady surface. They’re trying to fool us again. Tony Dungy said same old Lions, so what the?…who the?…how the?…why the?
It’s hard to believe. The Lions offense hasn’t looked this balanced ever. Not in this blogger’s lifetime. Lions fans always watched a once sided attack—good running game, lousy passing game or vice versa. Watching the Lions against the Bears felt like seeing impostors in blue uniforms. Reggie Bush waited his entire pro career to look this good—he’s been every bit the drooled-over player in those High School highlights on You Tube and the Heisman trophy winning player selected second overall in the NFL Draft.
There were plenty of fans who hailed Bush’s signing as nonsensical in the off-season; and they’ve slunk back under whatever hole they live in to zipper their mouths closed if they had a shred of integrity left. Bush’s presence has been nothing short of a revelation; he’s turned out to be that missing piece that makes everything around him better.
He’s been a leader, an inspiration and a bolt of pure lightning for an offense that couldn’t convert a third down to save their lives in the first half of any game last year.
While the offense looked balanced and explosive, the defense dropped jaws through much of the game. The Lion’s defensive front four was excellent. Nick Fairley finally looked worthy of a first round pick, Ndomukong Suh was a beast. Minor points off Suh’s performance because he was going up against a rookie guard, but that would occlude Suh’s season so far. He’s having his best season since his rookie campaign, alight with a fire we haven’t seen since his season, composure and reputation started to collapse after Thanksgiving 2011 against Green Bay.
If this blog looks like a bloated balloon bobbing down a parade route, you can count yourself among the cynics. This wasn’t a Lions win against a sub-500 team. The Bears were undefeated heading into Ford Field on Sunday, some people hailing Marc Trestman’s hiring as some divine spark from between the clouds, possibly sending them in search of other people in Canada who know stuff about football. It was probably too soon to call Trestman a successful NFL head coach, and it’s also probably too soon to call the Lions a playoff team. It’s also wrong to cite the Lions’ past when evaluating the team that was on the field Sunday.
It’s understandable if you’re still doubting the Lions after this win. They’ve given you every reason to doubt them even when they seem like they’ve improved on both sides of the ball. Cynicism has left such deep scar tissue that some fans even grouse about this 40-32 beat down on the Bears. They went 5-0 in 2011 before collapsing into a long losing streak that seemed to stretch its witch fingers into the 2012 season.
If you’re tempering your enthusiasm because this team has hurt you in the past—that’s understandable.
Suit yourself; but you’re missing a great party.