Hey there, Detroit Lions fans. How you doing? You alright? You feeling better? I know it was a rough day on Sunday.
It’s hard to look at Sunday’s heart-breaking 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens without just thinking about Justin Tucker's improbable game-winning 66-yard field goal. I don’t blame you if that singular moment erases anything that happened in this game from your brain.
It’s time to forget about that now. Rip it off like a Band-Aid and move on.
The reality is the 2021 Detroit Lions, the second youngest team in the NFL, just put together a very good performance against a team that some believe could win the Super Bowl this year. This can’t go ignored. This was a brief vision into the future where it’s no big deal that the Lions are running alongside a Super Bowl contender with no problem.
Yes, there were breaks for the Lions. Yes, they had plenty of moments where they looked every bit as young and not so good as they are. But, the Lions played as close to a complete game as they’ve played in years.
Yeah, I’m saying years. This was the Lions' best performance since their win over the Patriots in 2018. This is the first time in years that the Lions didn’t look completely hapless. It was the first time in so long that the Lions didn’t trip and fall into a chance to win.
They worked their way there like an actual football team. They made mistakes early and corrected them. They didn’t wait for the Ravens to slip up, they attacked and it paid off. Of course, it didn’t pay off in the win column, but this was a freak occurrence. If Tucker had to kick that ball from that distance 99 more times, I really have a hard time believing he doesn't have 99 misses.
I know Lions fans have been waiting for the Lions to start getting good. It’s happening right in front of you. Not at the pace you’d like I’m sure, but it’s happening nonetheless. This team is learning something new and overcoming old mistakes every week.
After allowing Aaron Jones to run all over them, the Lions buckled down and stopped the Ravens from repeating what the Packers did to them. Instead of allowing another quarterback time to throw and time to move around, the Lions got in Lamar Jackson’s face and sacked him four times. They even held him to just 58 yards. He ran for 107 against the Chiefs and 86 against the Raiders.
You’re seeing players get better as the games go along. It felt like Alex Anzalone was a lost cause a week ago. Against the Ravens, he had a great game with five tackles and a sack. He didn’t look nearly as lost as he did against the Packers. The Lions patchwork secondary figured out a way to come together for big stops, Jared Goff turned a bad first half into a decent second half and Kalif Raymond came out of the shadows to make some big grabs.
They’re improving. It’s happening.
The coaching is doing the same. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn called a great game and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn corrected his mistakes fast. Coach Dan Campbell has these guys working well out there. You can question playing it safe on offense at the end of the game, but that’s stuff you learn from. If you’ve been watching this team, it’s hard to say they haven’t been learning from things.
When you see games like Sundays against the Ravens, it has to give you hope for this coaching staff and their players. It shows that they’re not as far off as it may seem. The good times are around the corner. Perhaps right around the corner as opposed to around the corner and down the street.
I really don’t have much of an opposite reaction this week. All I’ll say is hey, we’ve said this before right? There have been many occasions where some Lions fans thought the Lions were on the right path and they just weren’t. Some Lions fans also said many times that this time it feels different. Well, I’m saying it one more time. This is different. The Lions are on the right path. I urge you to let this one play out.