I watched the Lions game not huddled with my family but with two colleagues in the Dallas Cowboys press box. All three of us were Michigan natives and when we saw the Detroit f
all down 14-3 the same thoughts ran through our heads: here it comes.
On the drive over I’d talked with one of my colleagues about how this was the one game in the next four the Lions could not lose. With Chicago twice, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, 3-1 over those four was the most likely outcome. Detroit was going to lose a game it shouldn’t. That’s how the NFL works. But losing this one would wipe 3-1 off the table.
A loss at home to an inferior team in the Lions’ signature game to extend a losing streak to three would’ve been the official marker of the Detroit Lions trademark second-half slide. The three of us saw it. At 14-3, 25 straight drives without a touchdown and a shaky Thanksgiving Day history outside of last year when they played an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team, autopilot takes over.
We discussed Stafford and whether he was good enough, how his physical tools would allow him to be have a stranglehold on the starting quarterback position and how his limitations would prevent him from doing anything with it but put up big stats. We discussed Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi. We discussed the Lions’ failure to be able to get two rushing yards when they needed it. We discussed how easy it would be for them to miss the playoffs despite the schedule unfolding in their favor.
You know what happened next.
Stafford led three straight scoring drives, the defense allowed three more points the rest the game and the Lions not only won but an embarrassed an inferior team — as they should have. Two of us watched the events unfold silently. The third gleefully updated us with Stafford’s passing statistics after we’d spent the past five minutes trashing him.
“22 for 26, two touchdowns.”
“29 for 38, 370 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.”
Stafford finished the day 34 for 45 for 390 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.