By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Lions incited pandemonium at Ford Field two seasons ago when they took care of the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football with a home crowd so rowdy and raucous that the Bears false-started nine times.
Head coach Jim Schwartz even gave the fans a game ball for the effort, which included incredible volume and intensity when the Lions were on defense and cooperative silence when Detroit’s offense took the field.
Monday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, the Lions desperately need their crowd to bring that kind of commitment again. Only three games remain in the regular season, and Detroit (7-6, 4-1) needs every one.
As much as a crazy crowd would help, what the Lions need most is to get pressure on the quarterback. In that Chicago win in 2011, Jay Cutler got sacked three times. The Lions sacked Green Bay backup Matt Flynn seven times this Thanksgiving, so the defense clearly has that kind of potential, but it needs to unleash it now.
Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and the rest of the gang must make Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco uncomfortable. His numbers this season are underwhelming – 17 interceptions to go with just 18 touchdowns – but he has piloted the Ravens to three straight wins. Since Detroit cornerbacks Chris Houston and Darius Slay have both been dealing with injuries, any extra help the defensive line and linebackers can provide in rattling Flacco would surely be much appreciated, even more than usual, by the secondary.
One more element of that Monday Night Football game in 2011 that the Lions need to repeat is a successful rusher to draw attention away from superstar receiver Calvin Johnson. Two years ago, that running back was Jahvid Best, who ran for 163 yards and a score on 12 carries that night. This year, it needs to be Reggie Bush with a solid game – not a given considering that last game he was sidelined for a calf injury.
Everyone knows the Lions have enough talent to win this football game and probably most other ones. This is, however, the team that has won a pair of games in which it turned the ball over four times and yet managed to lose three of its last four games by blowing fourth-quarter leads. What ends up happening, though, will likely revolve around the presence or absence of crowd noise, pressure on Flacco and production by Bush.