Lions 19, Redskins 14. No, that was not a typo. For the first time in nineteen regular season games, the Detroit Lions finally won on Sept. 27.
It seemed like an eternity since Ford Field had seen the exhilaration that goes along with a home game victory. And in essence, it had been. The Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 within a regular season. On their way to catching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose late 70’s record sported a 26 loss streak, the Lions had accumulated 19 losses in a row. Head Coach Jim Schwartz commented a week before the surprise win that the team was trying to ignore the constant mention of last season’s devastating record. “I look at it more as we’re 0-2,” Schwartz stated in a post-practice interview. He also mentioned that the press’ constant reminding of the team’s past shortcomings was not helping morale one bit. “It’s too much to ask them to try to correct what happened last year, this year. When you’ve got a zero in the wins column, you need to get that out from under you: it changes a lot of attitudes.” Apparently the team’s uplifted attitude was just the boost they needed.
The game headed off with starting quarterback Matt Stafford throwing a 21 yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson in the 1st quarter. Jason Hansen kicked for the extra point and completed two field goals in the next quarter to bring the score to 13-0 at the half. Spirits were high as the Lions stepped on the field after halftime, but were short lived as Redskins’ Santana Moss caught a 57 yard pass for a touchdown in the 3rd.
The 4th quarter however, found Maurice Morris with a 2 yard run for a touchdown bringing the score to 19-7. This was shortly followed by a Redskins touchdown. The score stood at 19-14. As the minutes boiled down, Detroit fans were on the tips of their feet. Even Stafford, one of this NFL season’s most promising rookies, couldn’t bear the anticipation. “I figured I’d just let the crowd noise tell me what happened,” he’d said after the game. Stafford went on to mention that the silence of the stadium in those final seconds was too much, so he looked up to see the tackle and the time run out on the scoreboard.
Cheering could be heard throughout Detroit. But despite the acknowledgement of the first win in 19 games, head coach Schwartz took the stand at a post-game press conference like any other coach would: he delved into where the team should have improved. “Our expectations need to be higher. We shouldn’t be content with just a win”. But the rest of Detroit sure was. With the struggling auto industries, the plummeting housing market, and the high levels of unemployment, the Lions’ home city has been looking for a boost in morale. And after the triumph over the Redskins, they’ve definitely found it.
Although the Lions went on to lose on Oct. 4, the morale of the team and its fans has not fallen. Most Detroit fans were thrilled to experience the first win and, while more winning would be preferable, did not lose their spirit or falter under pressure.
Will the redemption continue for the Lions? Make sure to tune into their game on Oct. 11 to see them play the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. With their first win in 19 games under their belt, no one will know quite what to expect on Sunday.