Thanksgiving Before July: Lions Beat Partiots 28-27!

John Farrier@GriffWings UnitedCorrespondent IJune 27, 2010

DETROIT - DECEMBER 20: Louis Delmas #26 the Detroit Lions takes the field during player introductions prior to playing the Arizona Cardinals on December 20, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Arizona won the game 31-24.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Thanksgiving Before July: Lions Beat Patriots 28-27 in Last-Minute Thriller!


Or something like that. 


At this point who knows. 


The results of a national poll might strongly suggest that the Patriots are a hands-down favorite to soundly defeat the oft-losing Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 25, 2010.


For many, I’m sure the lyrics of the No. 7 Billboard Hot 100 Billy Joel classic, “You May Be Right” (Glass Houses , 1980), come immediately to mind in various forms:


You may be right, I may be crazy

But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for

Turn out the light, don't try to save me

You may be wrong for all I know, but you may be right


So, yeah.  Maybe I am crazy to predict a Lions victory on our hallowed annual national-television event wherein the (insert team name here) slay the Lions in front of the home crowd.


But maybe, “Mayhaps”, if you will, the 2010 Detroit Lions during the 12th week of the NFL season will shock Belichick and the Bean town fans in front of a national audience.


Maybe it will be the penultimate victory of the season if head coach Jim Schwartz and his coordinators, Gunther Cunningham and Scott Linehan, are able to deliver the “lunacy” that Lions fans are looking for.


Now, there are many Lions fans who would likely swear that outside linebacker and special teams demon Zack Follett is most definitely that lunatic, but what do you expect regarding a fellow known to get in the cage with a lion.  It’s okay folks—no fear for the kid by the Bay.


A recent article by Ian Rapoport at BostonHerald.com outlined the many position battles that are waging on the Patriots defense.




More analysis was offered by Gregg Rosenthal at Profootballtalk.com.




In his article, Rosenthal writes, “most defensive positions are up for grabs.  We count seven.”


So then what’s being said is that the Patriots could find seven new starters on their 2010 defense.


Guess what?


That’s about the same number of new starters the Lions defense will be employing during the 2010 season.


If that’s the case, the difference is that the Patriots will have more players familiar with the Belichick system than new Lions starters under the Schwartz system.


Three out of four Patriots linebackers could be new starters, while the Lions will return two out of three starters at the linebacker position.


On the defensive line, the Patriots will add a new starter at defensive end, while three out of four Lions on the defensive line will be new starters in 2010.


In the defensive backfield, the Patriots return two starters, and have young, first-round cornerbacks in Darius Butler and Devin McCourty (both of whom I coveted for the Lions, but alas it was not to be) battling it out for a starting job.  The projected starters at corner for the Patriots are former Lions CB Leigh Bodden across from Butler.  At safety, Brandon Meriweather is entrenched as one starter, and Patrick Chung is believed to have the inside track to start at the other position.


You’re talking about a young group of guys in the Patriots secondary in whom their organization has invested top resources to make their acquisition via the NFL draft.  Matthew Stafford and the Lions receiving corps could struggle if the young Patriots defensive backfield can gel before Turkey Day.


The Lions will return only FS Louis Delmas to a Detroit secondary that will feature three new starters.  Chris Houston projects at one corner while Jonathan Wade, Eric King and Amari Spievey look to compete for the other starting cornerback position.  C.C. Brown is projecting as the opening-day starter at the other safety position.


Unfortunately, the Lions are coming off years where the team has finished among the worst, and often dead last, in NFL defense.  That’s really the root of the problem.  On most Sundays, the Detroit Lions will score enough points to win the “average NFL contest”.  The major malfunction is that the defense can’t hold the opposing offense to less points than the Lions offense can score.  The positive exception in this instance was the heroic shootout victory over the Cleveland Browns.


The Lions have churned the roster adding Kyle Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams, Chris Houston, Jonathan Wade and C.C. Brown, along with 2010 NFL Draft No. 2 overall selection, Ndamukong Suh, and third round pick Amari Spievey.  Zach Follett or Caleb Campbell may surprise at the vacant outside linebacker position, driving extreme value for the club based on their draft status.


Essentially, the Lions will have mostly new starters during the 2010 season, players who were not apart of the two-win 2009 Detroit season.  Stakeholders at all levels are excited to see what the returning players can accomplish during their second year in Gunther Cunningham’s defense.


I’m hoping their best effort of the regular season results in a victory over the former Detroit Lions coach (1976, 1977), Bill Belichick.


On the offensive side of the ball, the New England Patriots feature the premier quarterback in today’s game:   three-time Super Bowl Champion and ultimate Michigan Man, Tom Brady.  It is the Georgia Bulldog who must have a better day if the Lions are to finish victorious, 28-27, at the end of the contest in the annual Thanksgiving Day classic.


Fans might be inclined to give the Patriots offensive line the advantage in play between the two teams; and there is no doubt that each team boasts a serious arsenal of pass-catching threats.  The Lions have struggled in the run game, finishing 24th in the NFL in rushing in 2009; whereas the Patriots were 12th-best in the same category.


Regardless the Lions performance in the run game during the 2009 campaign, they have added a solid player to the offensive line in LG Rob Sims.  Martin Mayhew has also added WR Nate Burleson and TE Tony Scheffler via free agency, and Cal Bears speedster, RB Jahvid Best.  These new playmakers have been added to augment current rising stars WR Calvin Johnson and TE Brandon Pettigrew.


Immediately following the season, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said that Jeff Backus’ play during the 2009 season was worthy of pro bowl votes.  If the Lions offensive line can gel during their second year under the tutelage of coach George Yarno, providing Stafford with the requisite time to find his receivers, Detroit fans could be in for their best Thanksgiving Day meal in many a harvest moon.


Lions management has provided Matthew Stafford with a great assembly of weapons, but their collective will to win must exceed that of the Patriots for sixty minutes of play to exact a Thanksgiving Day win for the hometown crowd.


On a short week coming into Detroit, I’m hopeful that the visiting Patriots will be overconfident, without focus, starting players they’d rather not have to, and searching for receivers they cannot cover.  Such would be unusual for a Bill Belichick Patriots team, but in order to achieve victory, anything but the “usual” must happen for the Detroit Lions.


From this perspective, the following quote from the legendary Vince Lombardi is more than appropriate to set the tone for the requisite mindset for Detroit Lions management, coaches, staff and players:


“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.

Man, ain’t that the truth.


You have to start somewhere, and that somewhere for the Detroit Lions must be the belief that they can and will prevail over the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving Day in front of a sold out “Fort Detroit” in the “House of Spears”. 

Ndamukong Suh must smack my beloved Tom Brady square in the chops, relentlessly, for 60 minutes of play.  Such was the formula for success for Michael Strahan and the Super Bowl Champion NY Giants, who ended the Patriots season of perfection by the margin of a field goal.


If Lions players but have the faith of a mustard seed, they could move mountains, or in this case, beat the Patriots on Turkey Day 2010.  Victory begins between the ears, gentlemen.  The belief that you can win coupled with the will to win may prove to be the impetus to Lions victory in late November against a highly-favored opponent.


What is important is that the 2010 Detroit Lions do not wait to demonstrate their preparedness in the face of opportunity.  If they wait until the Thanksgiving Day game (week 12), obviously, it will be much too late.  This team doesn’t sound like a team that’s preparing to “lay down” for any opponent, especially not Schwartz’ former mentor, Bill Belichick.


What the Lions must do is come out of the gate strong in their first two contests and demonstrate on the scoreboard that the playoffs about which Louis Delmas and Jonathan Wade speak are not just another “run off at the mouth” during the offseason.  Rather, fans want to believe in the legitimacy of the player’s recent statements that not only do the players believe they are a team that is bound for the post-season during the 2010 campaign, but they are willing to tell you about it.


If you don’t tell anybody what your goals are, quite frankly, they are meaningless.  You set goals that are high, yet achievable, and then compete like there’s no tomorrow to achieve the results.  The setting of those goals, and the outward display of an inner belief has been duly noted by a pair of Lions defensive backs.


They don’t think it is impossible.  Step one.  They believe they can accomplish far more than many of us dream possible coming off the NFL’s worst record of 2-30 over the past two seasons.


Yet they dare believe, they do believe, and they have no problem sharing their opinion publicly.  It must start in Allen Park, and as the seminal moment of belief transitions from the “want to do”, to “can do”, to “have done it and am confident that I can do it again”, that’s when the habit will change from losing to winning.  That’s what the 2010 season is about in terms of the confidence continuum for this young Detroit Lions football team.

Final score on Thanksgiving Day 2010: Detroit 28 – New England 27


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