I hate to break the bad news to all of our readers, but the Lions drubbing of the Patriots doesn’t mean anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled by the performance, and I love what it COULD mean going forward, but at this point, we need to take it in stride. It’s the preseason folks. The 34-10 thrashing was a surprise, and it’s a good story, but I think there is one overwhelming fact to keep in mind. A trump card to the excitement, if you will. The Lions were 4-0 in the 2008 preseason. That’s the argument. Until it gets to September, and beyond, this is just eye candy.
The take home message of the game is that there is a lot to like about the Lions. First of all, the game was sold out. Seems like a minor point, but let that sink in. This is a team that needed an extension to sell out the Thanksgiving game a few years back. Now, they are selling out preseason games. The fans weren’t there just to “hang out” on a Saturday night. They were loud. They were on their feet. They were into the game. The Lions clearly were the team showing more intensity. The team and the fans fed off each other. If that’s the type of fan support we can expect for the season, the important 12th man will help during the season. I do worry about how quickly they might turn if the team starts playing like…well…the Lions?
Besides the crowd, how can you not love the pressure the defense put on Tom Brady. Brady was held in check by Brady standards (12-22, 145 yards, a touchdown and an interception); he even looked frustrated. Midway through quarter number two, CBS ran a highlight package showing the hits on Brady. After several of the clips it was apparent he was frustrated with his linemen. Sure, you can argue that he just wants to make sure his team is ready, but the Lions definitely helped point out they may not be 100% prepared upfront yet. Hopefully, that’s a trend the D-Line will be able to continue to point out.
Then there is Matt Stafford. He was nearly perfect. He threw for 200 yards in about 22 minutes of action. He was 12 of 14. He had two touchdowns and another one dropped. Most importantly, he got up after getting absolutely flattened on the 30 yard completion to Calvin Johnson. Oddly enough, folks seemed to be most excited about that and the fist pump after he got up. Also, his strike of a touchdown pass to a covered Nate Burlsson was simply fantastic. Again, a trend that needs continuing.
Having said all that, it still doesn’t mean anything! It’s nice, and it might even be something to build on, but it’s not anything this team can hang it’s hat on too long. Bill Belichick isn’t going to tip any hats in a preseason game. Do you believe we saw the best the Patriots have to offer on Saturday? I don’t. The biggest and most important question is did we see the best the Lions have to offer?