The Detroit Lions defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to move to 7-6 on the season and keep their playoff odds alive.
The reaction from Lions fans was underwhelming, to say the least. Though the schedule looks more than favorable ahead, the play of Lions wasn’t too inspiring and Detroit didn’t get the help they wanted from teams like the Falcons and Panthers.
So this week’s Song of the Game is going to be a little somber. Not because I’m unhappy with the win, but to remind us of sadder times in the hopes to get a little more appreciation of where the 2017 Lions are at right now.
Lions-Buccaneers Song of the Game: “Ran” by Future Islands
I was first introduced to Future Islands back in October by my friend Alexander. He insisted as part of our trip to Minnesota to see the Lions take on the Vikings, we also cap off the night at Minnesota’s landmark music venue First Avenue to see this indie pop band. Already feeding off the adrenaline from Detroit’s 14-7 victory over Minnesota, I was hypnotized by frontman Sam Herring’s erratic, yet infection performance.
But let’s get back to this song. It’s a mournful piece about the trials and tribulations of the road. The fear of the unknown, the loneliness and the absence of the comfort home brings.
Those struggles are no stranger to the Detroit Lions. They once lost 26-straight games on the road.
On these roads
Out of love, so it goes
How it feels when we fall, when we fold
How we lose control, on these roads
That streak came to an end almost exactly seven years ago... against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers... in the same exact stadium they left with a 24-21 victory on Sunday.
I happened to be at that game in 2010, and I very clearly remember the joyous celebration in the concourse after the game. The raucous singing of “Gridiron Heroes,” the hugging of strangers, the forgotten elation of what it feels like to just enjoy a Lions win on its most basic of levels.
There were no fans lamenting the drop in draft position or cursing that the win lowered our chances to see a new Lions head coach next year. It was fandom at its purest.
That all seems lost on today’s fans. I get it. I really do. With improved teams come improved expectations, and we should always set the bar higher than the Millen years.
But at the core of every sports fan is the desire to watch your team win. That’s it.
We all look at the New England Patriots and grouse at their fans when they complain about a lost Super Bowl. We scream at them to be grateful they even played in the same building as the Lombardi trophy. They’re spoiled.
But in a way—granted, to a much lesser degree—we’re spoiled too. After Sunday’s win, the Lions have guaranteed they will lose no more than nine games for the fifth straight season. That level of consistent competitiveness isn’t all that normal. The Dallas Cowboys cannot make that same claim. Neither can the Carolina Panthers or the Minnesota Vikings or the Baltimore Ravens.
And one of the most difficult things an NFL team can do is win on the road. It’s uncomfortable, it’s foreign, it’s filled with strangers and it’s hundreds of miles from loved ones. It’s just not home.
But the Detroit Lions have won five of seven games on the road this year. Only three NFL teams can claim better road records this season.
The Lions aren’t where we want them to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to appreciate where they are. All you have to do is look down the road and see how far we’ve ran.
Note: Week 3’s choice of “Sober” by Tool has been replaced by “Popcorn” by Hot Butter because Tool is not currently available on the platform and “Popcorn” is hilarious.
To read the reasoning behind every choice this year, check out our Song of the Game archive.