Sunday, September 30, 2007

Detroit Lions Use Historic Fourth Quarter to Defeat Chicago

For three quarters, it seemed like the same story we had seen before. A Detroit Lions team failing to move the ball, at all. A costly redzone turnover. An offense failing to take advantage of a stiff defense giving them every opportunity to take the game by the throat. It was 13-3, Chicago Bears leading. The Bears, starting their backup quarterback, the Bears, without seven starters on defense, The Bears, 1-2, leading by 10, on the road. Mike Martz' innovative offense was oddly stagnant, as was the crowd, which was silent, all except the thousands of Bears fans, who had temporarily taken over Ford Field.

Then, suddenly, everything turned. Shaun McDonald scored. Then Keith Smith had an interception return for a touchdown (making up for one he had in his hands last year and dropped) and suddenly, in less than three minutes of game time, the Lions went from trailing 13-3 to leading 17-13. Ford Field was rocking. The Lions seemed to have everything under control. Then Devin Hester returned a kickoff for a touchdown, Chicago had the lead again, and all looked bleak.

There was a lot to be unhappy about as a Lions fan Sunday. The offense, which was the one saving grace for the Lions the first three weeks, reverted to a shell of itself for the the first thee quarters. The offensive line, after giving up nine sacks last week, surrendered six on Sunday. And while I was thrilled to see Mike Martz try to establish the run, after all but ignoring it the first part of the season, it wasn't working early, and too many series the Lions tried running on first and second downs instead of opening up their offense to take advantage of Chicago's decimated secondary. All of this was running through my head as the Bears re-took the lead in the fourth quarter.

But, then, something strange happened. The Lions didn't fold. After Hester's return, the Lions roared back, and 5 plays, 80 yards, and only 2:51 later, Troy Walters caught a beutiful ball form quarterback Jon Knita, dragged his feet in the corner of the endzone, and the Lions had the lead, again. And this time, for good.

The Lions then did something they have never really done before. They stopped Chicago three-and-out, then took over on a game-clinching, time-consuming, fourth-quarter touchdown drive. So often I have seen other teams ice games against the Lions on long drives where our defense could never come up with a stop. This time, it was Detroit on an 8 play, 62 yard drive chewing up over 5:00 of the clock. And with that, the game was over.

There were some exciting and frustrating moments to go (like Chicago's non-fumble, then touchdown, and then Casey Fitzsimmons running the onside kick attempt back for a score) but the Lions were 3-1. I don't want to get too ahead of myself, because after three quarters, I was ready to declare the season over in this blog entry, but the team continues to show heart, and continues to show they are a fighting team. Not many teams, after being held to 3 points in three quarters, would respond with 34 points and five touchdowns in the game's final 15 minutes. But the Lions did, and for this week at least, they deserve the bask in the adulation of victory.

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