Monday, October 31, 2011

I Needed That

Seriously. I needed that. I'll be the first to admit that, after the past two losses, my attitude started to slip into a negative place. As a man who has witnessed a 6-2 team finish 1-7, and a winless season, I don't feel a need to rationalize my actions in the past two weeks. I never lost faith in the team, but I was extremely frustrated with how average the Lions played in their two losses. The fact that I was frustrated with mediocrity shows how far this team has come in just three years, and it's important not to lose sight of this.

But I wasn't the only one who needed this win. The entire Lions fanbase needed this win. "The Pride" needed a reminder of just what it looks like to be on the other side of a beat-down. They needed a look into where this team can go when running on all cylinders. They needed to see what a team with no hope looks like and see that the Lions bear absolutely no resemblance to it.

And Matthew Stafford needed that. Though I'm sure he didn't have any doubts, he needed to remind everyone else how dangerous he can be. He needed to prove to all the stats geeks (me) that sometimes you need to just trust your eyes. He needed to convince questioners (again, me) that the past few weeks were the exceptions and not the rules. 130.8 passer rating, three touchdowns, no interceptions. Critics, answered.

And the offensive line needed that. For a unit that has taken heat all season (and pretty much every season in the past 20 years), the front five needed to prove that they have the talent to keep Stafford's jersey clean. They needed to prove that the running game can be serviceable and even dangerous at times. Check and check.

Titus Young needed that. After looking like a fool (whether it was his fault or not) last week, Young needed to prove he has a role in the offense. He needed to catch his first career touchdown and put it behind him. And Tony Scheffler, boy did he need (and want) that. He needed to prove to Denver that trading him was one of many mistakes made by Broncos management. Three catches (including THIS), 38 yards, and a touchdown later: mission accomplished.

The Lions defense really needed that. After being called dirty and undisciplined, the defensive line needed to prove their dominance was a result of talent and hunger, not immorality and immaturity. They committed only four penalties (two on defense), picked up seven sacks*, and outscored the Broncos by themselves. Evil? Maybe. Talented? Undoubtedly.

And, finally, the national media needed that. Seemingly everyone got caught up in a week filled with endless, obnoxious Tim Tebow coverage and internet memes, and some needed a wake-up call (including Vegas's ridiculous line on the game, which I called out early in the week). Pundits needed to see that, against a real NFL team, five minutes of above-average play from a quarterback is not enough to overcome 55 minutes of terrible play. The Lions exposed this truth as they held Tebow to 46.2 completion percentage, 172 yards and a 56.8 passer rating. This won't be the end of the Tebow debate, but it is a devastating blow to the "Tebow is a franchise quarterback" crowd.

The Broncos are not a good team. They're not even an okay team. They're a bad, bordering-on-terrible team. And while this game doesn't tell us much about how the Lions will fare against the likes of the Packers, Chargers, Raiders and Saints in the second half of the season, it does tell us one very important thing: the Lions are not a bad or even mediocre team. They're a good football team who will embarrass the basement of the league when given the opportunity. And that's just what I needed to see.

*would have had eight sacks, if Tebow hadn't been...saved.

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