By: Dan Leach
Follow Dan Leach on Twitter @dtmleach
Honorable Mention- Pistons Game 1 1989 NBA Finals vs. Lakers June 6, 1989
5-AVS VS WINGS WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 7 -(Wings Destroy Avs and Patrick Roy 7-0 to move onto the Stanley Cup Finals) The Joe has seen many epic and historic games, but the game seven win over the Avs, who at the time were the Wings most bitter rival, was a truly amazing night. The combination of it being a do-or-die game seven to get to the Stanley Cup Finals, and what the Wings were able to do to one of the best goaltenders ever in Patrick Roy, gave this game such a special energy. From the pre-game, to the puck drop, to the final horn, the fans were on their feet. They were screaming at the top of their lungs, celebrating an amazing team that would go on to win it all.
4-BARRY SANDERS 2000 YARD GAME VS JETS December 21, 1997- This game had so many storylines to it that it is hard to put it into words. First the Lions came in at 8-7 and needed a win to clinch a playoff berth. Conversely the New York Jets came in at 9-6 and needed a win of their own to clinch the postseason. While clinching the playoffs is by far the most important thing and NFL team can do, what seemed to be just as important that day was NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders coming into the game with 1,869 yards, trying to become only the third man in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards in a season (O.J. Simpson 1973, Eric Dickerson 1984). A fourth quarter TD run by Barry was the decisive score and a late fourth quarter run put him over 2,000. The game also featured two penalties on the Lions due to crowd noise and ended with the team carrying Barry off the field in one of the most special moments in Detroit sports history.
3-MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BEARS VS LIONS (First ever Lions Monday Night game at Ford Field) October 10, 2011- Ford Field can get very loud, but there weren’t many reasons to cheer until the Lions 2011 season, when the team opened 4-0 and hosted their first Monday Night game in a decade. This was the rare game I was able to take in as a fan and not a member of the media and from the start you knew this was a special night. Many people that are under 25 got their first taste of what it felt like during the height of the Barry Sanders era at the Silverdome, Michael Buffer introducing the Lions with his trademark “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”, and the Lions forcing six false start penalties, mainly due to noise, was something to behold.
2-NOTRE DAME VS MICHIGAN 2011 (First night game in Michigan Stadium history) The energy even around Michigan Stadium hours before the game began was at a fever pitch, but once you got into one of the nation’s most hallowed stadiums, you knew it was a special night. The crowd jumping and waving maize pom-poms to White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” is burned into the memory of all who attended, and the final play and ensuing win could be heard for blocks and blocks after the game.
1-NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF VS DALLAS JANUARY 5, 1992 (First and only playoff win since 1957 for the Lions) – The Silverdome likely has games on many of your Top 5 lists, as that building would literally shake from its foundations. That said, none in my life was louder than the Playoff win vs. Dallas. Call it decades of frustration; call it a group cathartic release, whatever you want to call it that is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life. I knew it was a big deal when I first got to the game as parking cost $35 instead of the normal $5-10$ , which would be like paying $100 today (ah, inflation). Then when we got into the stadium, it was earth shattering loud from start to finish and will always be one of the most special moments I ever shared with my sports hero, my father Harold Leach and his sports hero, my late grandpa Saul Leach.