What a wonderful, beautiful day. I have no words for how incredible, indelible, and overwhelming last night was.
We did it. We, the Lions fans, came out in force. We filled every seat in the house and then some, and we were deafeningly loud from opening kick to closing gun. We forced the Bears into nine false starts. We provided energy that the Lions fed off of. We changed the balance of the play on the field.
But the players on the field won this game.
Credit first must go to the defensive line, who played an incredible four quarters of football. They kept the pressure on constant boil with very little help from blitzes. Cliff Avril had a monster three-sack game (two were called back on penalties), but nearly everyone on the Lions defensive line "ate" well last night.
Credit must next go to Jahvid Best, who finally connected on a couple of the home run balls he was drafted to hit. He also made several nifty plays at the first and second levels that made something out of nothing, and something into something more. It's that ability that makes him so valuable--and together with his speed, so dangerous.
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson both did their thing, the offensive line performed admirably, and Andre Levy and the linebackers kept Forte contained.
That having been said, the Lions still weren't hitting on all cylinders. Stafford missed some connections at some critical early junctures. The Lions clearly shut down the engine with a few minutes out and coasted it home.
Still, the Lions physically dominated the Bears from whistle to whistle; the only reason they didn't win 38-6 with a few turnovers and grip of sacks is Jay Cutler.
Say what you will about Cutler, but he was pitch-perfect last night. He escaped sack after sack by the skin of his teeth, and converted third down after third down with back-footed off-balance desperation heaves that always landed in the waiting arms of the only open man. With the Lions defensive line determined to put him on the ground after every throw, penalties be damned, Cutler absorbed all the abuse and kept the chains moving anyway.
The Bears owned the ball all game long (nearly 40 minutes of possession). Time after time we got the impression the Lions defense couldn't buy a stop. Yet, the Lions held Cutler, Forte, and the Bears to a measly 13 points. Mission accomplished.
In the end, that is the takeaway. Not the incredible bombast, not the significance of the night to the team or the city, nor any of the incredible numbers generated, nor any of the streaks broken or extended. The Lions faced their most stiffest challenge in a decade, and they rose up and passed it.