The Lions Den: Too Close For Comfort

Detroit crawled away from their rivals last Sunday with an injured Matthew Stafford. Now, the hardest stretch of their schedule awaits them.


That Was a Close One

Just when all of Ford Field thought that their divisional foes had stunned them once again, the man with the plan, Matthew Stafford, found a way to finish them off. This time, it was with his legs.

“I just knew we needed a play,” Stafford said. “We needed a touchdown, and I had it made up in my mind. Once I started running, I wasn’t gonna be denied. It was a good play, but there were a bunch of other really good plays that helped us win.”

The Detroit Lions walked away with a 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears at home in Detroit. Jourdan Howard, the lethal rookie out of Indiana, had a great game for the Bears. The speedy back racked up 13 carries for 86 yards. The Bears depleted receiving core seemed to be playing well for Chicago’s QB Matt Barkley. Cameron Meridith, Chicago’s current go-to-receiver, had 6 receptions for 72 yards and a TD. On paper, the Lions were supposed to run away in this game against the injury ridden Bears, but Barkley drove his side down the field time after time. Self inflicted penalties and a tired defense lost the game for Chicago. And to credit the Lions, Stafford showed once again why he is the most clutch QB in the game right now. The Lions now hold the single season record for the most 4th quarter comeback wins, a statistic that most teams would want to avoid. For Detroit, however, the team really seems to rally around Stafford in the last minutes. This kind of trust and composure can prove to be lethal on the road against worn out defenses. Stafford was by no means flawless in this game, however. The 8 year man out of Georgia threw two interceptions in the game, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Stafford stayed calm despite this and drove his team right down the field on the following drive. He scampered into the end zone on a 7 yard TD scramble to cap off the drive. His pocket awareness this season has been crucial for Detroit. He’s kept plays alive and has gained big first downs for his side. A big positive to take away from the game was the return of Detroit’s best deep threat, Marvin Jones junior. Jones had 4 receptions for 67 yards and caused a lot of defensive pass interference flags to be thrown his way. The Stafford and Jones combo went after Chicago’s veteran DB, Tracy Porter, numerous times. Jones was proud of the way his team played and praised Stafford for his late game effort.

“He had to defy some elements,” Jones Jr. said. “He’s a master competitor, and he showed it out there today.”

Another unfamiliar face in the blue and silver was Detroit’s beloved star linebacker, DeAndre Levy. The home crowd erupted with cheer when his name came over the intercom announcing his first tackle of the game. The Lions are certainly glad to have him back in the rotation, as he will now have a major role on this Lions defense. With his return, he will take a lot of weight off the shoulders of Tahir Whitehead, the man who has been making up for his absence all season long with 107 tackles so far. Levy talked about what it was like watching Stafford and the offense to go work late in games.

“Early on in the year, it was giving me a heart attack watching it every week,” Levy said. “But now, you settle into it, you kinda know what’s going to happen, and expect a win. That’s kind of the mentality that a lot of guys have. That we’re going to win. There’s not as much hesitation as there once was.”

Looking past the return of the injured Levy, Stafford suffered a crucial injury of his own in the game. Mid-way through the second quarter, Stafford’s hand was batted down by a Bear’s defensive lineman as he was trying to get a pass off. Stafford ended up suffering a serious ligament injury in his throwing hand, but he returned to the game with a glove on his right hand. Head coach Jim Caldwell has announced that Stafford will play through the injury for the remainder of the season. A picture was captured at Wednesday’s practice of Stafford wearing a special glove that had been modified for his injury.

In the end, Detroit pulled away with another typical late game victory. Stafford had an average game at best, but the offense did not seem like themselves without the versatile Theo Riddick. The Lions have clearly found a formula that works for them, but they need to find a way to clinch games earlier on. The Lions have a real chance to prove themselves against some tough teams in the coming weeks.

Here Comes The Gauntlet, Folks

Detroit is now heading into their most difficult stretch of the season. They take on the dangerous New York Giants on the road this Sunday. The G-Men feature a composed Eli Manning and one of the best receivers in the league, Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants will surely test Detroit’s secondary, especially if defensive back Darius Slay cannot recover from his hamstring injury in time. From there, the Lions will head to Dallas to take on the current Super Bowl favorites, the Dallas Cowboys. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have played out of their minds thus far, and it will be fascinating to see how the Lions stack up against the star studded side. Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot, however, so we may not get to see the full extent of the Cowboys’ offensive and defensive firepower. The Cowboys are beatable. We saw this after their recent loss to the Giants and a nail biting finish against the Vikings. To top it all off, Detroit welcomes Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers to Ford Field. Many believe that Aaron Rogers is starting to heat up late after a blowout win against Seattle at home. Many also believe that the Packers could end up chasing down the Lions late in the season for a playoff spot. Time will tell.

We Can do This

Only time will tell how Detroit will do in this journey ahead of them, but we can only hope and pray that they can pull through. They will need a fiery Matthew Stafford, who has been having the season of his career, to vamp things up even more and finish out strong. They will also need Theo Riddick, their explosive RB who sat out against the Bears because of a wrist injury, to jump back into the rotation and put up big numbers. The defense is slowly rising to it’s full potential. The return of DeAndre Levy will only help them from here on out. Players like Glover Quin and Darius Slay will need to continue performing as they have been the past couple of weeks. Finally, they will need all of you to cheer them on to the very end. This year has been exciting to watch, and I believe that things are only beginning to heat up for the unproven Lions.