Detroit Lions: Growing from Cubs to Kings as Monday Night Audience Looms

Ryan CampbellContributor IIIOctober 4, 2011

Behind the best WR in the game today, the Lions are off to a 4-0 start.
Behind the best WR in the game today, the Lions are off to a 4-0 start.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

How many second-half comebacks does it take for a team to get to the center of adulation in the NFL?  Well, in the Detroit Lions' case, two.

The energetic, undefeated Detroit team traveled to Dallas on Sunday for a matchup with the (then) 2-1 Cowboys.  The general consensus was this would be a good quarterly test for the youthful Detroit team, a measuring stick if you will.

Test passed.

For a half, it appeared that Detroit was getting a little too big for its britches. Coming off a miraculous come-from-behind win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions came out flat. Be honest, after the first half you thought this team might not live up to all the hoopla three weeks of the season had provided them. 

Things went wrong early. 

Sitting in the south end zone, I watched as Stafford's throw on the first series was two yards short and four yards behind a wide open Calvin Johnson.  Easy pick for Dallas' CB Sensabaugh.  Tension set in my shoulders as a stadium of fans, less dissatisfied than I, roared back at the Lions. 

Three plays later, Tony Romo threw a beautiful ball to Dez Bryant that Chris Houston never found, and Lion nation let out a collective "uh-oh." 

The duration of the first half was more of the same.  Three-and-outs for the offense and silly penalties against the defense, culminating in a 20-3 halftime score and my spending more on overpriced beverages than I had originally intended to.

However, these aren't your grandpa's Lions.  They don't quit; they claw.  They don't whimper, rather they show their teeth.

This team finds ways to win ball games—mainly, throw it up to Calvin Johnson and let him make it do what it do, baby. Whereas, in years past, the Lions found ways to lose them. 

The Cowboys' third-quarter TD pass to Jason Witten was the gut punch that—once upon a time—would've sent an inexperienced Cub back to his den, gasping for air.  No mas.

These young Lions have a ferociousness about them. 

Bobby Carpenter, in place of a concussed Justin Durant, took a pick six thirty four yards, saying to Romo, "Thanks for making me a groomsman this past summer, bud. Sorry to have to do this to you.  Oh, and by the way, I dated your wife before you got hitched, no hard feelings."

Maybe I wouldn't head for the exits just yet.

Then Chris Houston got on his Bob Marley "Redemption Song," and Romo was pick-sixed again! 

Can you say momentum shift?  Sound it out.  A 27-3 embarrassment had turned into a 27-17 ball game.

Detroit would allow Dallas to score a measly three points the rest of the game, and behind two miraculous Calvin Johnson TD catches, rallied to win.

The first one—pure amazing.  Megatron, double covered, looks back at Stafford and motions up twice.  The ball looks like it's coming directly at me in the stands, as CJ snags it at its peak for the best catch I've seen him make this far.

History-setting win.  Biggest Dallas Cowboys collapse EVER.  I guess everything is bigger in Texas. 

The Lions are young, and still mildly flawed, but they're finding ways to win.  Obviously, they can't continually spot the opposition 20 first-half points, but it's nice to know they've proven they're able to come back from such deficits twice in two weeks.

The Chicago Bears come to Ford Field on Monday night in front of a national audience that is, for the most part, drunk on Lions Kool-Aid. 

In years past, this Kool-Aid was made up solely of preservatives.  In 2011, it packs a real punch, true substance.  The kind that will knock you on your butt—just ask the Bucs, Chiefs, Vikings and Cowboys.