SportsPulse: Week 3 provided plenty of upsets and upset defensive players as the roughing the passer controversy reared its ugly head once again. Trysta Krick is here to overreact to it all.
Jamie Samuelsen, co-host of the “Jamie and Stoney” show at 6 a.m. weekdays on WXYT-FM (97.1), blogs for freep.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Detroit Free Press nor its writers. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jamiesamuelsen.
Were you more impressed with the Detroit Lions’ performance Sunday night, or were you less impressed by the New England Patriots?
Maybe it was social media. Maybe it was sports talk radio. Maybe it was the millennials (everyone always blames the millennials).
At some point, we ceased being able to talk about a single game without putting it into larger context. It’s okay to appreciate a solid win without making a global statement about where this team is going next.
The Lions won a game, 26-10, that nobody thought they could win against a Patriots team that was fresh off a lousy performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This doesn’t put them back in the playoff race or the division race. This doesn’t mean we need to start planning for the Super Bowl. I’m not even sure it makes them a favorite this week in Dallas (according to Vegas, it doesn’t). Just because a team wins a game and deserves credit, doesn’t mean the next glorious step is within reach. Ask the Jags, who followed up the win against New England with a 9-6 clunker of a loss to the Tennessee Titans. That’s how football works, especially in the NFL.
So you’ll excuse me if I don’t bury the Pats in my praise of the Lions.
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The Pats look banged-up and quite frankly under-talented. Tom Brady remains Tom Brady. But his cast of offensive weapons hardly scares opponents. The Lions knew they could cover the likes of Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan, so they doubled down on stopping the run, something that they had failed to do in the first two weeks of the season. The result was a dominant time of possession discrepancy (39:15-20:45) and 89 rushing yards for the Pats. The Lions had allowed an average of 179.5 rushing yards in the first two weeks. That was one reason why the Lions won on Sunday night, but it certainly wasn’t the only one.
The Lions were better in virtually every phase of the game. The Lions had one more penalty than the Pats, but beyond that, the Lions won every facet.
That’s why this game was special and deserves to be lauded without worrying what comes next. A win seemed possible only because the Lions have Matthew Stafford and are seldom totally out of a game, as they proved in San Francisco. But a dominant win? A win where the Lions won all the physical battles and imposed their will on the offensive line and defensive line? No, that didn’t seem possible.
That’s the most impressive thing about Sunday. If it were a fluky win where the Lions fell behind and Stafford pulled off one of his ridiculous schoolyard comebacks? Well, that would be a game we’ve all seen a time or two before, even against a team like the Pats.
But when was the last time the Lions went toe-to-toe with a perennial Super Bowl contender and walked off the field with a dominant win?
We always hear from Lions fans who have been following the team for fifty or sixty years and how long they’ve been suffering. I’ll defer to them. This isn’t a playoff win and only the next few weeks will tell us how significant it is. But it’s a decisive win against the franchise that represents the gold standard in the NFL. I don’t remember anything in recent memory that comes close.
Free Press writers Shawn Windsor, Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez dissect the Lions’ 26-10 win over the Patriots on Sept. 23, 2018 at Ford Field.
Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
As for head coach Matt Patricia, it eases the tension. The stories about him losing the team seemed hasty. Any new coach is going to install his system and his way of doing things. But winning makes the transition much easier. Beating the Pats should help even more.
Suddenly those two-hour practices might not seem as bad and the good cop/bad cop routine might be a tad more effective. The Lions posted video of the locker room celebration after the game when Patricia received the game ball. I won’t say the entire roster of players mobbed Patricia in the middle of the room, but there was a good collection of players and they seemed happy for the coach. We’ll see what happens next.
And that’s the attitude Lions fans should have after Sunday night. No banners. No trophies. No guarantees. There are, for the first time since opening night, possibilities. Lose to the Pats and it’s all over. Beat them and suddenly it’s possible to envision the Lions putting together a little bit of a streak against the Dallas Cowboys and the banged-up Green Bay Packers. It’s not probable, but it’s possible. And that possibility didn’t exist if the Pats had done what they were expected to do.
The Lions beat the Pats. All is not good in their world as a result. But all is better than it would have been after a loss. That’s all I’m saying. And really, that’s all that matters.