LIONS JONTE Green (#36) knocks Golden Tate off the ball. – Andre Smith photo
Before 63,497 at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit the mood was electric. Not only were the Lions battling the Seattle Seahawks, the Tigers were right across the street getting ready to challenge the San Francisco Giants.
The Downtown area was a wave of humanity enjoying a sports festival at the highest level. To its credit the Detroit Lions did it part as the set the stage for the Tigers and the fans implementing a noteworthy come from behind victory over the Seahawks.
All left Ford Field jubilant and all hoped that energy would carry over across the street to Comerica Park. Well, it was not to be as the Tigers got swept by the Giants.
With the win the Lions put their teetering ship in motion for a run at a decent season. The NFC North Division is going to be a challenge for the Lions as it is proving to the the best Division in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears lead with a 6-1 record followed by the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings who are both sitting at 5-3. The Lions are bringing up the rear at 3-4.
But it is not hyperbole to say the Lions are better than their record. The fact of the matter is the defense has been playing it best ball in the past 10 years. Loses to Tennessee and the Minnesota was a direct result of special teams giving up two return scores in each game, and, the offense and quarterback Matthew Stafford not playing up to the level he and they showed in 2011.
After Stafford connected with receiver Titus Young on a 1-yard touchdown pass on third-and-one with 20 seconds left to play that resulted in the game-winning touchdown pass against Seattle, it gave the Lions a 28-24 victory over the Seahawks. The pass was Stafford’s fourth career game-winning touchdown pass, and second this season, in the game’s final minute.
Stafford completed 34-of-49 passes for 352 yards earning his 13th career 300-yard game. He has thrown for 300 yards in 13 of his 36 career starts. The Lions are now 9-4 when he throws for 300 yards.
With only 5:27 left in the game Zach Miller made a spectacular, 16-yard catch on a toss from Russell Wilson to put the Seahawks ahead. But Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions on their last possession.
Young made the most of his opportunity replacing injured Nate Burleson. Besides the game-winning score Young caught a 46-yard touchdown pass in stride from Stafford that started Detroit’s initial comeback.
“Titus…it was more than just Titus though,” lamented Lions coach Jim Schwartz. “Ryan Broyles made a couple of really big plays. Tony Scheffler got a big chunk of yards. (Brandon) Pettigrew moved the chains a few times at the end; Joique Bell made some big plays. It was a team effort to be able to mount that last drive.
“Titus never lacked for self-confidence. Titus is always positive and his role has changed a little bit now. But he’s always upbeat and has a lot confidence in his ability to make plays.”
Added Young: “I feel like it’s a blessing to be in the position to make plays for my team. Just as far as the overall win, I felt like it was just great for our team not only me. When we play together, as you guys can see, we’re a really tough team to beat especially at home when the crowd is involved. Our crowd is a very emotional crowd. They really want us to win really badly. Anytime we get a chance to get the crowd on their feet, we have to make the defense pay.”
Also the Lions defense continued to force negative plays on the opponent’s offense. In particular, led by defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams they registered seven total tackles for loss that included six on rushing plays and one on a pass play.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @LelandStein III