Four weeks ago the Lions had heard enough about streaks. Road losing streaks, divisional losing streaks and last place in the division streaks. Talking about streaks got a lot more pleasant since then as the Lions have ended those and starting winning streaks in their place.
The Vikings were without their starting quarterback, several defensive backs and playing on a short week. All justifiable reasons for a poor performance. Almost as justifiable as the Lions missing their starting quarterback, Pro Bowl receiver, their top four cornerbacks, starting defensive end and hobbled starting running back. The Lions dug deep and bounced back from adversity and ended the season on the highest note since the 90’s.
The game started with a promising drive from the offense that culminated in a Tony Scheffler fumble inches from the goaline. The Lions held the Vikings in check and jockeyed for field position for the remainder of the first quarter. Early in the second quarter Amari Spievey stepped up and picked off his 2nd pass of the season and the Lions’ 14th as a team.
The Lions marched downfield and converted a 55 yard field goal try to take a 3-0 lead. The Lions’ defense forced a quick three and out and the Lions took possession with 5:02 left in the first half. The Lions travelled 94 yards in 15 plays and ate up all but 28 seconds as Nate Burleson made a terrific catch in the endzone to take a 10-0 lead into halftime.
The Lions received the second half kickoff and drove 47 yards before Dave Rayner hit his second field goal to make it 13-0. The Lions stuffed the Vikings on their next possession and got the ball back at their own 36, when Jared Allen made a ridiculous catch and run for the Vikings’ first interception return for a touchdown all year. The Vikings would add another field goal early in the fourth quarter to draw within three.
The Lions answered back with an 8 play 77 yard touchdown drive to push the score to 20-10 and the Vikings could only muster a field goal the rest of the way.
The Lions capped their 6th win by making a tackle on one of the more ridiculous end of game plays I’ve seen. Here is the play by play description from NFL.com:
1-10-MIN 20 (:10) (Shotgun) 14-J.Webb pass short left to 12-P.Harvin to MIN 35 for 15 yards. Lateral to 87-B.Berrian to MIN 30 for -5 yards. Lateral to 17-G.Lewis to MIN 25 for -5 yards. Lateral to 81-V.Shiancoe to MIN 20 for -5 yards. Lateral to 17-G.Lewis to MIN 23 for 3 yards. Lateral to 12-P.Harvin to MIN 15 for -8 yards. Lateral to 14-J.Webb to MIN 30 for 15 yards. Lateral to 81-V.Shiancoe to MIN 33 for 3 yards. Lateral to 14-J.Webb to MIN 35 for 2 yards (43-E.King). Penalty on MIN-12-P.Harvin, Illegal Forward Pass, declined.
The Lions’ biggest hurdle early in the season were “flinch points” or moments in the game that changed momentum. The Lions always ended up being the team that flinched when they couldn’t respond to adversity. The last four weeks presented tons of adversity for the Lions, yet they never flinched as they knocked off two playoff contenders, a team that was eliminated from the playoff hunt a week before and a team fighting for their interim coach.
Lions’ fans wanted to see defined progress on the field this season, not just moral victories. After 12 weeks all fans had were a pile of close losses and a starting quarterback on the sideline. The Lions coaches and players discovered what it took to convert potential into production when it mattered most and they ran the table when they easily could have checked out.
Lions’ fans wanted to see hope for the future this season, Jim Schwartz and the Lions presented it in spades.