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Lions Back on Familiar Ground

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

For the past year and a half, Lions fans caught themselves using words like “expectations” and “hope.” Shoot – we even glanced at the Super Bowl location (New Orleans in February 2013) to determine if the trip was doable.

Instead of old, boring 1:00 PM Sunday game times we had to actually look up the schedule to see what time the Lions played. Hello Sunday Night Football. Nice to meet you, Monday Night Football.

I picked up a copy of Madden ’13 and a Lion was on the cover (Calvin Johnson – and he didn’t even suffer the dreaded Madden curse). I opened my mailbox over the summer to find Lions on the cover of the Sports Illustrated football preview. For long time Lions fan, it was almost like some bizarro world we were living in.

Things are now returning back to normal. It is acceptable again to use your “How bad the Lions are” jokes at holiday parties and family gatherings. Detroit area columnists are dusting off old articles, changing a few names and reasons for failure and passing them off as fresh columns. National writers seem to have lost interest in the Lions other than the occasional article about Ndamukong Suh’s player-kicking exploits.

As a Lions community we are back in our comfort zone. No one really knew how to act regarding the team’s recent success. Some predicted total domination of the NFL and multiple Super Bowl championships (I would take just one). Others were (correctly, it turns out) predicting that 2011’s success was a mirage and that the lovable Lions would fall back on hard times.

I was somewhere in the middle – I certainly thought the Lions could continue to emerge as playoff contenders but knew that with young, core pieces it wouldn’t be easy. The Lions also have aging, core pieces meaning that they would need to rebuild on the fly without losing their momentum – not an easy task (just ask the Pistons).

It is incredibly easy now to fall into the “2011 as mirage” camp and tell everyone that you told them so. Usually the reason for this has something to do with the history of the Lions organization and the Ford family owning the team. I would argue that even the most pessimistic Lions fan glanced at this season as something potentially different.

Lion’s fans were hit hard by a 1-3 start to the season. This was different than other 1-3 Lions starts because of expectations. We expected to contend this year and a 1-3 start indicated that it would be an uphill battle. After the Lions pulled even at 4-4, the word “playoffs” started creeping back in to the vocabulary. Now – as losers of six straight games – the words “top five draft pick” are used most often. That is our comfort zone.

This Saturday night against the Falcons, the Lions will play in their fifth nationally televised game of the season. The schedule was a product of last year’s success – a vehicle to showcase to the nation some of the young talent the Lions have. The way 2012 played out, the Lions won’t see much prime time in 2013.

The ESPN crew – led by former (and perhaps future) NFL coach Jon Gruden – will breeze into town to televise a somewhat meaningless game (the Falcons could clinch NFC home field advantage with a win) between two teams that made the playoffs last year. Calvin Johnson will try to inch closer to Jerry Rice’s seasonal receiving yardage record (he needs 182 yards in the final two games).

Then, just as fast as the circus came to town, it will vanish. The national television game announcers. The magazine covers. The video game covers. All of the hype surrounding the Lions this season will vanish. It will be the new (old) normal.

The careful work will begin to make sure that 2012 was the mirage as opposed to 2011. There is a lot of work ahead. The bandwagon won’t be nearly as full – which isn’t a bad thing. The Lions will always be my team because they represent my community. I didn’t bail when they were 0-16 and I’m not bailing now.

But a season like 2012 certainly makes you question your allegiance.

I have been a die hard Lions fan since 1991. I played football in high school and began a college playing career at Wayne State before hanging up the cleats. I will try to provide a perspective on my favorite NFL team for the Patch.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Scot Beaton December 21, 2012 at 06:22 PM
• Fewest Yards Gained Rushing, Single Team, Game, −53 Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago Cardinals) Oct. 17, 1943 • Fewest Yards Gained Rushing, Both Teams, Game, −15 Detroit Lions (−53) vs. Chicago Cardinals (38) Oct. 17, 1943 • Fewest First Downs, Both Teams, Game, 7 Chicago Cardinals (2) vs Detroit Lions (5), Sept. 15, 1940 • Fewest First Downs Allowed Season, 77 Detroit Lions: 1935 • Most First Downs Allowed, Rushing, Season, 179 Detroit Lions: 1985 • Fewest Touchdowns Allowed, Rushing, Season, 2 Detroit Lions: 1934 • Highest Average Distance, Punting, Season, 47.6 Detroit Lions (56 attempts, 2,664 yd): 1961 • Most Seasons Leading League Punt Returns (Average Return), 9 Detroit Lions: 1943–45,1951–52,1962,1966,1969,1991 • Most Consecutive Seasons Leading League (Average Return), 3 Detroit Lions: 1943–45 • Most Yards, Punt Returns, Single Team, Game, 231 Detroit Lions (vs San Francisco 49ers) Oct. 6, 1963 • Most Touchdowns, Punt Returns, Single Team, Game, 2 Detroit Lions (vs Los Angeles Rams) Oct. 14, 1951 Detroit Lions (vs Green Bay Packers) Nov. 22, 1951 • Most Yards, Kickoff Returns, Both Teams, Game, 560 Detroit Lions (362) vs Los Angeles Rams (198), Oct. 29, 1950 • Most Turnovers, Single Team, Game, 12 Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago Bears) Nov. 22, 1942 • Most Turnovers, Both Teams, Game, 17 Detroit Lions (12) vs. Chicago Bears (5), Nov. 22, 1942 • Most Fumbles, Game, 10 Detroit Lions (vs Minnesota Vikings) Nov. 12, 1967
Scot Beaton December 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM
• Most Touchdowns, Opponents' Fumbles Recovered, Season, 4 Detroit Lions 1937 • Most TDs, Fumbles Recovered, Both Teams, Own & Opponents Game, 3 Detroit Lions (2) vs Minnesota Vikings (1) (2 own, 1 opp) Dec. 9, 1962 • Fewest Penalties, Season, 19 Detroit Lions: 1937 • Fewest Yards Penalized, Season, 139 Detroit Lions: 1937 Mike... "The Lions will always be my team because they represent my community" -- Michael Webber I concur... I'm also one of those 'love is blind' loyal fans. Happy Holidays, and thanks for the 'Lions Posts'. Question of the day what will come first Michael Webber Mayor of Rochester Hills, or the Detroit Lions in a Super Bowl game. LOL
Richard Happening December 21, 2012 at 08:45 PM
One (disputed) national championship in the last 70+ years is what UMich's record is. I don't want to hear about number of victories against the likes of Slippery Rock, Indiana and EMU. The last time they had a NationalChampionsip (other than the disputed 1997 season (where Tom Osbourne and the Nebraska team were given the crystal football) they were wearing LEATHER HELMETS.
Michael Webber December 22, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Scot - great stats thanks for including them. Have a great holiday and New Year's to you and your family as well.
Harry Pelham December 22, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I rightly think them thar Detroit Lions needs a NEW Head Coach that thar Jim Schwartz feller seems too have to HOT! a temper and a poor cocky Attitude thar?

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