Three Cups Deep: Lions vs. Chiefs

>> 9.19.2011

lions_in_winter_blue_bonfire

Ford Field was rocking. Everyone was standing, cheering, clapping, and laughing. The Wave was in full effect, circling the sold-out stadium three, four, five times. Me, my seven-year-old, my five-year-old, and my father-in-law had long since blown out our voices cheering, screaming, ‘SUUUUUUH’-ing, and yes—singing Gridiron Heroes so many times we lost count.

Said Dominic Raiola:

"In the years I've been here, it is never been like that in the stadium."

Said Ndamukong Suh:

"The crowd was amazing, as they always are," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "I love to see our field continue to be sold out - no empty seats anywhere in that stadium. I appreciate it fans, and look forward to the next time we get back here."

Said Kyle Vanden Bosch:

"It was loud out there. It was difficult for (Kansas City) to make adjustments, to run audibles, and even get the snap counts. We have a definite advantage at home, and we can feel the crowd's energy."

The thing that impressed Vanden Bosch the most was how long the fans stayed despite the score.

"It was nice to see - I don't know how many touchdowns we were up late - that the fans were still there supporting us," he said. "They weren't in a hurry to get home, they wanted to finish this thing out with us."

Of course. Of course! Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t want to see this through to the end? Who wouldn’t want to stay to the final whistle, to lap up every minute, to savor every second? Who wouldn’t want to let the warmth of the big blue bonfire wash over them, bathe them in its glow, and laugh and cheer and high five along with 65,000 of their closest friends?

Said Nate Burleson:

"We said before the game that we wanted to give the crowed what they've been wanting," he said. "Some of the coaches said in a meeting last night, 'There's no better place to throw a party than at your own house.' We had a pretty good party today."

That’s exactly what it was: a party. From the second half on, the Detroit Lions hosted an enormous coming-out party, with everyone in attendance or watching at home or seeing highlights of it later or reading about it this morning invited. It was an announcement and celebration of the time of the Detroit Lions having arrived.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson were just too good to stop, adding another two touchdowns to their mutual total. Besides Calvin, Stafford hit six other receivers at least once. The not-Calvin skill position triumvirate of Nate Burleson, Titus Young, and Jahvid Best combined for 18 catches, 246 yards, and a touchdown. Tony Scheffler had one catch—but it was a 36-yard touchdown grab.

None of this counts the 43-yard pass to Burleson or 24-yarder to Calvin Johnson (that would have put the Lions on the Chiefs' 1-yard-line) that were called back on penalties. Add in Best’s 57 yards and touchdown, and Keiland Williams’ 25 yards and touchdown, and you’ve got yourself one hell of an offensive explosion.

On defense? The Lions held the Chiefs to three points, 267 total yards, 18% third-down conversion percentage, forced six turnovers and eight penalties. The Lions are now #3 in the NFL in scoring defense, #2 in scoring offense, and #1 overall in points differential—by a long shot.

As I said in the Fireside Chat, the party didn’t get started right away. The Chiefs moved the ball on the ground well early, and the Lions struggled with a few just-out-of-reach passes and an inability to get two yards on the ground when they need it. But that can’t be the takeaway from this incredible win.

The Lions’ offense is nothing short of spectacular, and when this defense plays with a lead, it’s not much less so. The much-maligned secondary played its tail off, and the Lions looked It’s true that the Chiefs are anything but stiff competition—but an honest-to-God blowout is a rare treat in today’s NFL. Let’s take this one at face value, shall we? Let’s bask in the national attention the Lions’ six- (kinda ten-) game win streak is getting. Let’s have another round of cider, and bask in the glow of the big blue bonfire.

5 comments:

Anonymous,  September 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM  

As I noted before Tampa Bay, I honestly thought that the lions should finish 14-2 or better. I did not see them winning in GB in January (when they have already clinched) and I'm afraid that they'd loose one of the three games against New Orleans, Atlanta, and Dallas in that order. I would have liked to have seen how the Lions defense fares against Charles for the entire KC game and I suspect some half time adjustments would have tightened up the run defense, but right now, I'm not sure about the Lions run defense. We'll see how they do against Peterson in Minnesota next Sunday. If LeShoure had not been injured, I would have guessed 16-0.

In any case, I now think the Lions have the potential of having a truly exceptional season. Due to all the bad luck, the injuries of the past, and significant acquisitions from various teams, who could not fully utilize the talents of their players, the Lions now have an embarrassment of riches in exceptionally talented players and a coaching staff that knows how to use them and motivate them. I submit that this once in a lifetime congruence of events may result in a PERFECT STORM of 16-0 with a super bowl win.

No, I haven't been drinking Kool-Aid and I don't even like corn bread, but I do occasionally drink Scotch. The bad news is that I see the Lions regressing next season as they loose players (and coaches) to free agency. So I say, enjoy it while you can. This Lions season may become one for the ages.

5Bakerstreet,  September 19, 2011 at 6:29 PM  

I remember the last time the Lions totally embarrassed the Denver Broncos in a 44 - 7 route. That was the game where Shaun Rogers picked up a fumble (Cutler's fumble?) and rumbled 66 yards to a touchdown. That same game the Lions stopped the Broncos on 4 downs, in a 1st and goal situation inside the Lions 5. The Lions got the ball back at their 1, Kitna completed a hail mary up the sideline for a first down in Broncos territory and the next play Kitna threw a TD. I thought I died and went to heaven, because this wasn't the same Lions I had been watching the last decade or so.

And the 2011/2012 Detroit Lions is a far different team than coach Schwartz inherited, you remember that team that went 0 - 16. The Lions have played pretty darned good these first two games, but there is always, at least 2 games into the season, going to be areas in need of improvement.

The last 10 minutes of the Bucs game, the first quarter of the Chiefs game, areas are going to be discussed behind closed doors on improving the Lions for the future.

Which brings me to the Jeff Fisher visiting the Lions camp prior to the season. The press told us the fans that it was simply a meet and greet with Fisher's son, now an intern coach with the Lions. That it might have been but I also think Jeff Fisher's visit was more than just a get reacquainted with his son visit.

Why?

Jeff Fisher became the coach of the Titans in 1994. The 1994 Titans went 2 - 14. Coach Schwartz's first year as the coach of the Lions, the Lions went 2 - 14.

Next year the Titans went 7 - 9. Coach Schwartz's second year the Lions went 6 - 10. Then the next 3 years the Titans had the same record, 8 - 8. The following year, 1999, the Titans went 13 - 3 and losing SuperBowl 39 by the score of 23 - 16 to the Rams.

While only circumstantial, I believe that behind closed doors coach Schwartz and former coach Fisher had a discussion regarding getting to the SuperBowl without those three 8 - 8 seasons the Titans experienced when Fisher got the coaching reigns of the Titans. I would not be surprised if both Mayhew and Lewand were in attendance along with Linehan and Cunningham.

The Lions' mantra is they are building not only for now but for the future. There is a priority in turning the franchise around on an expedited schedule ... Bill Ford Sr. is what, 85 - 90 years old and just as the Lions were silent in regards to playing yesterday's game against the Chiefs as a payback for the bogus tampering claim involving Gunther, I also believe the Lions management team is playing "the game" to win it all before the owner passes.

This is why I don't believe for a second that Jeff Fisher visiting the Lions camp was merely happenstance.

Ty September 20, 2011 at 10:07 PM  

Anon 1--

"I would have liked to have seen how the Lions defense fares against Charles for the entire KC game and I suspect some half time adjustments would have tightened up the run defense"

Actually, that's something I looked hard for. I believe the defensive line DID tighten up against the run, doing a much better job of staying home in their run fits.

Of course, at that point the whole run-stopping thing was mostly moot.

Peace
Ty

Ty September 21, 2011 at 9:06 AM  

5Bakerstreet--

That Denver game was amazing! One of the few moments of pure, unadulterated joy Lions fans were able to experience during the Millen Era.

I am intrigued by your premise. PFT reported that Leslie Frazier didn't get the job because he said he'd need at least five years to rebuild the Lions into a contender. Clearly they thought they could--or must--move faster than that.

I believe that Millen's hiring was intended to be the Big Push to get Mr. Ford a title: his famously tight purse strings were loosened. He signed blank check after blank check. They backed up the Brinks truck for guys like Dre Bly and Damien Woody.

After almost nine years of failure, all that money looks wasted. But look what's come of it: Mr. Ford retaining Mayhew and Lewand, key cogs of the Millen Administration. The perennial high draft picks (directly or indirectly) landed the Lions Jahvid Best, Matthew Stafford, Brandon Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, Gosder Cherilus, Dominic Raiola and Jeff Backus.

Those players are the core of an offense that looks like one of the best in football right now.

Peace
Ty

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