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Wounded Lions Get It Done Again

By Week 16 of the NFL season, all teams are banged up to some extent. Some are more injured than others, and although I haven't looked at every team's injured reserve list, I'd venture to guess the Lions are among the most injured in all of the NFL. Not only do they have quite a few players on injured reserve, but starters have been banged up and unable to play quite a bit lately.

Against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Lions won their third straight game, coming back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter thanks to some clutch plays on offense and defense. This victory was a hard fought one and showed that this team is not only learning how to win close games, but they never give up no matter what.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this victory is that they did it without the following starters:

QB Matthew Stafford

OT Gosder Cherilus

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch

LB Zack Follett

CB Alphonso Smith

S Louis Delmas

K Jason Hanson

Calvin Johnson missed the last couple drives with a banged up ankle and Chris Houston also left the game with what was reported as a shoulder injury.

On top of those players, the list of other players out with injuries (IR and PUP list) looks like this:

RB Kevin Smith

FB Jake Nordin

WR Mike Moore

WR Tim Toone

WR Derrick Williams

TE Richard Dickson

DE Jared DeVries

LB Jordon Dizon

LB Isaiah Ekejiuba

CB Aaron Berry

CB Brandon McDonald

CB Jack Williams

Now, not all of these players are contributors, but many are important special teams or depth guys. Their injuries, especially the defensive backs, have depleted much of the Lions' depth and have required them to pick up players that are forced into action a mere days after signing. Obviously the Lions aren't the only team dealing with issues like this, but the fact that they have run their winning streak to three games in spite of these injuries is impressive and speaks to the job the coaches and front office have done in building a team that can win.

I'm not going to sit here and play the what if game (I'll save that for the offseason) about how things would be different if such and such player wasn't hurt, but I will say this: Detroit has a lot of talent on its team. Much of that talent isn't healthy now or hasn't been healthy all season, but the Lions are now winning more than they have in years. That is a very big bright spot for the future, because if key pieces of the team can stay healthy, the Lions will be a team that can compete with anybody.

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