Lions end season on a strong note
Well, another Detroit Lions season is in the books, and for the first time that I can remember, I am sad to see it end.
The Lions made my preseason prediction of winning six games this year, but they could have easily won more.
Detroit played strong all year, but they had to learn how to win as the season progressed. Detroit showed progress at the end of the season as the Lions won their last four games, beating two teams with winning records, the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With a 20-13 win on Sunday, the Lions were able to tie the Minnesota Vikings for third in the NFC North division, and their offense scored more points (362) then the division champion Chicago Bears (334).
Of the Lions’ 10 losses this year, only three of them were more than 10 points. The Lions competed for wins nearly every single week, and at the end of the season everything came together at one time.
Some of the losses the Lions had this year were just stunning. These were games against division champions and playoff teams, and the Lions took them to the brink. The Lions had four losses that were by four points or less. One more touchdown scored or stopped in each of those games would have been a victory.
Week 1, the Lions fell to the NFC North Champion Bears by five points in a game where Calvin Johnson made a touchdown catch late that was taken away.
In week 2, the Lions gave the NFC East Champion Philadelphia Eagles all they could handle, losing by three.
Other impressive losses were to the Jets in week 8, where the Lions fell in overtime, and in week 13, the Lions lost again to the Bears, this time by four points.
There were still plenty of moments where the Lions still looked like the Lions of old, remember that loss to the Buffalo Bills?
As I look back at my preseason column, I am happy with how my prediction of the Lions season turned out.
I called for a 6-10 season, but I did not think that it would turn out this way. A couple of plays here or there and Detroit could have had 10 or 11 wins. I also am very pleased with the performance of Detroit’s two superstar Pro Bowlers, Johnson and Ndamukong Suh.
Johnson finally had a season that resembles his freakish talent with 1,120 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, and Suh was everything he was advertised to be, leading the entire NFL in sacks for a defensive tackle with 10.
It did not help the Lions’ cause when franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford went down with an injury to his shoulder in week 1. But I was impressed with Shawn Hill and at times Drew Stanton, who both stepped in and played well. Both Hill and Stanton are not starters, but both showed to be capable back ups.
I was totally wrong in predicting the winner of the NFC North. I really thought that the Packers and Vikings would both be challenging for a spot in the Super Bowl. Those wins had to come from somewhere, and I thought the Bears and Lions would get the worse end of some bad beatings at the hands of the Packers and Vikings. But the defense of the Bears and the self-implosion of the Vikings totally flip-flopped my predictions, with the Bears winning the division.
Lions’ fans everywhere should be proud of their Lions, and for the first time I can remember, I will have true excitement for the start of the season, and not just hope.
Overall, this season could be a season to remember. This could be the year that the Lions got out from the burden of failure left by Matt Millen, and turned the corner.