The Detroit Lions came out on Monday night and did what they needed to do. They beat an inferior team and dictated the pace of the game on both sides of the ball.
Maybe most importantly, they looked like they were having fun. These guys play a game for a living. Yes, a game. One most of us played in our backyards and on the school playground. Last night Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford looked as though they were right back on the schoolyard. I don't know if it was the new coaching staff, a new year or a mixture of both, but the Lions went out with the calm control of a team that knew they were better and played accordingly.
For years the Lions failed to take control. It looked like they were on the verge of yet another collapse early in the second quarter. Thanks to a few drive-extending penalties, the New York Giants cut the Lions' lead in half only a few minutes into the second quarter. And Twitter feeds around the nation were filled with the "here we go again" mentality that has plagued the Lions for over a decade.
Thankfully that mentality was nowhere to be found on the Lions' sideline Monday night. The Lions finished the second quarter without scoring any points -- they picked up several more penalties along the way -- but they didn't let the Giants gain any ground, either.
Still, going into halftime there was sentiment that Lions were an undisciplined, underachieving team.
With Lions games, there's always that halftime feeling that they should be up 21, yet it's a one-score game.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) September 9, 2014
The Lions came out in the second half and proved on a national scale that this team wasn't willing to succumb to previous labels. The Lions finished the game winning the turnover battle and not surrendering a single penalty in the second half.
The offense was able to create big plays without turning the ball over. The defense didn't give up big plays downfield, while holding the Giants to just 2.4 yards per carry on the ground. The mental strength, however, may have been more impressive than any physical aspect throughout the night. The Lions' errors cost them drives early on, but not the game.
After just one game I'm not ready to say the Lions have turned the corner, but they're on the way.