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How the Detroit Lions respond after Monday’s debacle will define their season

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Where does this team go after Monday?

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Put yourself in a moment for me, if you will. Let’s say you’re on the Detroit Lions’ 53-man roster this past Monday night. You put everything you had into a really important division game on national television, and your team lost after a handful of controversial penalties. You tried hard and you did all you could do. Though it might not have been enough, you worked hard. Then you lost because of something you couldn't control.

Are you there right now? Good. Okay, now what are you feeling and how are you going to pick yourself back up for a game on Sunday?

That’s a hard question to answer, right? Most of us have never been in this exact situation, but I’d like to think we’ve all had moments in our lives where we put everything we had into something, and it just didn’t work out for reasons that had nothing to do with you.

The Detroit Lions are in that situation right now. It’s weird to say that since it often feels like they’ve been in this situation a million times before. We’ve all sat and watched as the Lions lost a game due to some crazy new rule you’d never heard of before or a really bad call. How did they typically react?

It’s never really been good. Let’s go back a little real quick and see how things turned out. Here’s a fun list.

  1. After the Calvin Johnson rule game in 2010, the Lions lost the next three games.
  2. After the Schwartz challenge flag on Thanksgiving in 2012, the Lions lost the next five games.
  3. After the Dallas Cowboys’ picked-up pass interference flag playoff game in 2014, the Lions lost several key players and missed the playoffs the following year.
  4. After the “Monday Night Football” batted ball game against the Seahawks in 2015, the Lions got blown out the following week and fired their general manager and team president just two weeks later.
  5. After the phantom face mask call that led to the Aaron Rodgers hail mary later in 2015, the Lions lost a really ugly game to the Rams and were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
  6. After the 10 second runoff game against the Falcons in 2017, the Lions dropped three of the next four games.

That’s not very encouraging, right? Here’s the thing to consider, though: None of those teams were as good as this team currently is. I have no problems saying that, either. This current team is better than the 2014 Lions. I know plenty of people will disagree, but the 2014 Lions were an amazing defense and not much else.

Additionally, the signs of this team being more mentally tough are already here. After blowing an 18-point lead in the season opener, the Lions won back-to-back games in which they were expected to lose. Even head coach Matt Patricia mentioned how proud he is of this team’s mental fortitude.

“I think we have a tough team. I think we have a mentally tough team,” Patricia said after the Chiefs Week 4 loss. “I think they push through any situation. I don’t think our team blinks. I think they kind of keep going forward and that’s great to see.”

What I’m getting at is that I personally have a lot more faith in this team bouncing back and staying on goal than I have had with prior teams that clearly couldn’t get over what had just happened to them. I think the 2015 Lions team that lost on that Hail Mary is the perfect example of that. You could tell that the Lions were in their heads still after a really heartbreaking loss at home.

Don’t get me wrong, this Lions team is still capable of having that same response. You could make the argument that everyone is pissed off and will likely remained pissed off all week. It doesn’t help that they have to go on a short week and play a surging Vikings team in another physical division game. As bad as it seems, you’d almost understand a let-down performance this Sunday. After all, how many fans who didn’t play Monday are going to also still be mad when Sunday comes around? Humans have emotions.

But I don’t think that’s what happens to this team. Late Monday night we saw something we’ve never really got to see before after one of these moments. We saw a player overcome with anger and shock suddenly turn a corner and seemingly show everyone that he plans to channel that into his work going forward.

As Trey Flowers sat in the locker room still in all of his gear, he changed a perception of this team that I’ve had for a long while now. These guys might not be giving up.

“Work. Work. I’m ready to get back to work.”

After the dust settled, many other Lions players saw this video and commented on it with full support for Flowers and what he’s getting at here. It seemed as though the Lions didn’t really go home and sulk on this one. It seemed to me that this team is pissed off... but in a good way.

Things like that can be dangerous, and I mean for the opponent. You’d like to believe that the signs the Lions are showing us are true, and this is a team that wants to make someone pay no matter who that sorry team is. There will be bloodshed and it ain’t gonna be theirs.

I, for one, hope that’s the attitude this team brings into Sunday’s divisional showdown with the Vikings. A really loud Ford Field who also wants to see pain administered certainly won’t hurt the cause either.

But only time will tell. We’ll have to wait until Sunday actually rolls around to see what team comes out. If it’s the team that’s similar to the post-Hail Mary Lions and they drop their third-straight game in lousy fashion, this is going to be a long season and this team will prove to not be the team we many thought they were after their 2-0-1 start. In fact, it’ll likely prove they have a long, long way to go.

But if they come out and give the Vikings the business on Sunday, then look out for this team. They could use this moment as a rallying cry. There’s a lot of football left to be played, and if they’re playing it with that attitude, the sky is the limit. Imagine a world where the Lions getting screwed again actually brings the team together more than ever. That’s a world I want to live in.