A year ago September, I asked actor and Chelsea native Jeff Daniels — in a magazine interview piece — if he thought the Lions would ever win again in his, or our, lifetime. And for purposes of the question, the definition of “win” was something significant — like a Super Bowl for instance.
He paused for a moment, looking skyward, then his eyes met mine.
“YES, they will win in our lifetime,” he said with a chuckle.
OK, but … why?
“Forget the laws of (NFL) parity,” Daniels said. “It’s the law of averages! Shouldn’t those kick in sooner or later?”
The Lions won another yesterday — 16-7 in Chicago — and once again it was the other guys who imploded. The other guys whose rally was more slapstick than high drama. The other guys whose fans booed them off their own field.
And it was the Lions again, God bless them, who held it together — hanging on for the victory. Correction: hanging on is not fair terminology. They didn’t just win because the Bears failed. The Lions won because they played like that’s how it’s supposed to happen. They are beginning to play like a team that can now handle the slings and arrows that a perilously close NFL game always seems to present.
Oh, they might be good at losing 56-21, or 34-3, but this latest vanquishing of the Bears was victory no. 5, and in all of them, the outcome could have bobbed and swayed either way in the fourth quarter. But the Lions are now 5-0 in such perilous games.
And there’s more.
No bombastic requests for the media to plant a kisser on the posterior, like after last week’s home win against Tampa Bay. The locker room after yesterday’s win was low-key and full of a we-haven’t-done-anything-yet mentality. Which is good, because they haven’t, of course.
Even the poisonous pen of the Free Press’s Drew Sharp dared to scribe about playoffs. He didn’t even refer to Matt Millen as Mr. 24-72. Millen is still only Mr. 29-74, but you take your improvement how and when you can in this league.
The best part of watching the Lions win these football games is seeing how they are slowly, yet surely, becoming accustomed to doing so. Even the boisterous Roy Williams urged caution.
“We’re 5-2, but this thing could just as easily turn into 5-11,” he said. This from a man who last season kept saying that the Lions were the most talented team with a horrible record in the entire NFL. Now he’s the beacon of sage wisdom?
But he’s right, you know. 5-2 can, indeed, turn into 5-11. But doubtful with this team, in this season, with this coach. More like 11-5, I’d say.
Jon Kitna might turn out to be wrong about the win total, after all — but in a different way than any of us could ever imagine.