Come with me on a journey of what may be...... The Detroit Lions 2011 season. As I peer into the crystal ball, the mists of the future begin to clear............
@ Chicago - Cutler the Confused is struggling with Martz's new offense. Martz is looking through his rolodex for Marc Bulger's number. Nothing is going right for the Bears today, and the only Monsters of the Midway reside on the Lions Defensive Line as they roll up four sacks on Cutler and constantly have him passing on the run. Matt Stafford and crew aren't clicking on all cylinders today, but the offense gets it done. Lions 24 Bears 6
Philadelphia - The Eagles come in with an attitude and bring the Lions back to earth. Kolb has a good game passing, distributing the ball evenly to all his receivers and exposing the weak points in the secondary. Stafford has a so-so game. Lions rushing game fizzles. Eagles 31 Lions 17
@ Minnesota - This time, it's the road warrior Lions that come in with a major attitude. An aerial war ensues for most of the game with neither team doing a great deal on the ground. Suh records a sack on Favre for the first in his NFL career. Lions force overtime and win the coin toss. Schwartz opts to take the ball, not the wind. a 43 yard Jason Hanson field goal gives the Lions their most heartening victory of the new millenia. Lions 34 Vikings 31
@ Green Bay - Chris Houston is sidelined for the week with the 24 hour flu. Unfortunately, this is the day that "Air" Rodgers earns his new nickname, setting a record by putting four Packer receivers at over a hundred yards receiving in the same game. The Lambeau Curse lasts one more year folks, in what comes to be known as the "game with no punts", sorry. Packers 49 Lions 27
St. Louis - The Lions humiliated secondary gets a reprieve this week, and Jonathan Wade gets some payback, intercepting Sam Bradford on the Rams 20. Suh does his own part with a forced fumble sack that can be heard in the upper deck to set up the game icing TD. Lions roll. Best has his first 100 yard rushing game. Lions 30 Rams 17
@ NY Giants - Schwartz is pushing the guys hard going into the Bye week. Jason Hanson gives an emotional pre-game speech, announcing his retirement following the end of the season, hardly a dry eye is seen in the locker room. The Lions storm the field like heroes of legend. Eli Manning goes down early with a sprained ankle. Jacobs and Bradshaw rush for a combined 60 yards on 17 carries. Best burns like a comet in the night sky, scorching the Giants for 120 on the ground and 75 receiving with 3 tds. Stafford is on fire, going 20-25 with 4 TD's. Lions 42 Giants 6
Bye - Hanson denies leaked reports to the press, but reaffirms his decision to the players and coaches.
Washington - Mike Shannahan is up to his old tricks again. Devising how the starting running back is selected, and once again drawing the hate of fantasy owners across the country, Shannahan plays spin the bottle before the game. Larry Johnson draws lucky this day. Donovan McNabb is poised and sharp. The Lions play a hard game in return, but in the end it's the Redskins who do themselves in, as Devin Thomas inexplicably fumbles with no one around him. Julian Peterson scoops it up and rumbles 35 yards to paydirt. Lions 19 Redskins 17 Happy Halloween!
NY Jets - Rex Ryan does what others have failed to do - get pressure on Stafford, and it takes a toll. The stingy Jets D shuts down the Lions offense for the first time this season. Sanchez does just enough as the Jets squeak one out. Jets 10 Lions 6
@ Buffalo - Injuries have taken their toll on the Bills as a surprisingly healthy Lions team comes to town. Bills play tough, but the Lions are too much to overcome in this one. Stafford is sharp, throwing for 3 TD's and running for another. Lions 28 Bills 13
@ Dallas - The Devil went down to Georgia, looking for a soul to steal, he was in a bind running way behind and he was willing to make a deal. Devil said "Hey Matty I'll bet this golden ball against your soul and sin" Matty said "Hey Jerry Jones I told ya once, I'm the best there's ever been". Stafford has his greatest day as a QB yet in yet another aerial dual against Tony Romo. Staff and CJ steal this one with Staffords first 400 yard game and CJ's first 3 TD game as the Lions outlast the Cowboys 49-42
New England - I'm sorry folks, it's not going to be pretty. Enjoy your family and the Turkey. I think Bill Bellichek was born to be a party pooper. It's not even close. Pay attention to your family. Ah hell, you're a Lions fan, you'll watch anyways. Patriots 30 Lions 10 Happy Thanksgiving!
Chicago - Cutler is on the bench and the Bears are on their 3rd QB. Lovie Smith slips Schwartz his resume in their pre-game handshake as the cellar-dwelling Bears show up with no hope and no heart. Lions shake off their turkey hangover and crush the Bears in all phases of the game, growing stronger as the game wears on. Lions 34 Bears 15
Green Bay - Here comes Air Rodgers again. Yep. Almost looks like a repeat of the game at Lambeau. Packers 35 Lions 27.
@ Tampa Bay - Lions defensive line continues to carry the defense, and it carries the day today, racking up 5 sacks, two fumbles, and allowing a mindblowing 39 yards rushing on 22 carries,as the Lions 3rd ranked rushing defense continues to maul opponents. Stafford and Best both have great days with Best surpassing the 1000 yard rushing mark. Lions 31 Buccaneers 11 (trust me, it was a BIZARRE Safety)
@ Miami - A college Bowl-like atmosphere reigns as the Lions choose to stay in South Florida to practice during the week. It proves to be a huge distraction. Lions stumble out of the gate against the Dolphins, and it proves to be the difference. This one was a heartbreaker. Dolphins 20 Lions 17
Minnesota - The NFC North crown is on the line. In the week leading up to the game, Hanson breaks down and confirms his retirement to the media. Gameday : The chant starts slowly. There has never been anything quite like it in NFL history. It builds toward kickoff, and suddenly all of Ford Field thunders with it. HAN SON! HAN SON! HAN SON! No kicker has received their due like this, and for so many who came to this game to watch Favre's last game, it's an eye opening experience. One man, with the team through good times and so many bad ones, a constant like the North star, puts on his cleats one last time. Goes through the pre-game routine that made him one of the best ever for the last time. The kid from Washington State with the most powerful leg ever to come of of college is now at the end of his string, but no kicker has ever received the unadultrated adoration rightfully lavished upon the true Detroit Lion Jason Hanson this day. The crowd Thunders as it never has before at Ford Field as Hansons foot connects with the ball. Amped by the crowd, his leg finds a strength reminiscent of those old days, driving the ball over Percy Harvins head and out the back of the endzone for a touchback, and ladies and gentleman, you've never heard such a primal roar as came from that crowd on that touchback as any you've ever heard before. Then, the old gunslinger walks onto the field for his last regular season game. He's tortured us, he's graduated our hate, and he earned our respect. Brett Favre takes the field in his last regular season game. Favre too is somewhat reminiscent of his old self. His first pass sails 5 yards over the head of intended target Bernard Berrian and into the waiting arms of Louis Delmas for the interception. The game see-saws back and forth for three quarters this way, like two heavyweight prize fighters, both beaten inside and out, both too proud to back down. At the end of 3 it's a 14-14 tie. Early in the fourth, the Lions put together a 9 play 65 yard drive that stalls out at the Minnesota 11. Hanson rails it through the uprights to give the Lions a 17-14 lead with 10 minutes left. Vikings go 3 and out on their next possession as Favre and Childress are seen arguing on the sidelines. Lions put together another drive that stalls out at the Minnesota 23 yard line. Once again, Jason Hanson takes the field to thunderous applause. He nails it, giving the Lions a 20-14 lead with 5 minutes left in the game. The kickoff doesn't go as far this time as in the game kickoff. Harvin receives it at the 5 yard line, bobbing and weaving his way up to the 42 yard line. Favre takes the field. Yep, here we go again. Favre is like a master surgeon. Slicing at the Lions just like the good old days. Finding every weakness the secondary has to offer like Gunther Cunningham is giving him the defensive plays in his helmet. In no time at all it's 3rd and goal on the Lions 1. Favre takes the snap and tosses to the tight end Shiancoe over the middle. Touchdown. 21-20 Vikings lead with 10 seconds left on the clock. The Vikings ensuing attempt at a squib kick goes horribly wrong, and Ryan Longwells offering is shanked out of bounds. Lions ball on their own 40 with 10 seconds left and one timeout. Stafford breaks the huddle and gets under center. The hike of the ball is the only quickness as time seems to slow. Stafford drops backs, looks, and zings a rocket over the middle to a leaping Calvin Johnson at the 34 yard line. Timeout with three seconds. Jason Hanson takes the field one last time. He lines up for the kick, the ball is snapped, Harris takes, spins, laces out, perfection. Hanson connects. In the beautiful pristine silence that lasts only a church-like moment, Jason Hanson's last field goal barely clears the crossbar between the uprights, as the clock reads zero and the Field erupts, and a Lions treasure, Jason Hanson, walks off into the history books. Lions win 23-21.
The 2010 Detroit Lions denied theMinnesota Vikings the NFC North Crown that year, instead it went to the Green Bay Packers who won by virtue of a tie-breaker. It was a hell of a ride for the Lions,and one that changed them forever. Despite not making the playoffs at 10-6, these Lions now had an unshakeable winning confidence that would serve them well in the years to come, but that of course, is in the next chapter.
Thank you my friends, and goodnight. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it.