Sunday, January 4, 2015

Can the Lions exorcise the ghosts of playoffs past?


As Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions get ready for their wild-card matchup today in Dallas, they're focused on stopping Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant.

That's their job.
Surely Coach Caldwell has them well-prepared.

As you and I get ready for today's game, we're focused on watching it.
That's our job. We just sit back and watch.

For many Lions fans today, there's hope.
Hope because, hey, the Lions are in the playoffs.


That's right, Jim.

Sure, Matthew Stafford and the Lions went out with a whimper against the Saints last time around.

So what.

So they lost again at Lambeau last week.
Big deal.

The Lions are back in the playoffs.

For disillusioned Lions fans, of course, this is no cause for celebration.
We've seen this movie before. We know how it ends (usually around midway through the third quarter).

We can't help but suffer the flashbacks.
Mark Rypien. Sterling Sharpe. Scott Mitchell.

They're seared into our psyche.

Looking back on their woeful playoff record over the last half century, it hasn't really mattered who they face in the postseason.

The result is always the same.

Everyone knows the Lions haven't won a playoff game since 1992, when Erik Kramer and Willie Green (The Touchdown Machine) led the Lions to victory over young Troy Aikman and the Cowboys:

That, of course, was at the Silverdome (don't look!) But who among us remembers the last time the Lions won a playoff game on the road?

For that we'd have to take the wayback machine all the way to 1957 San Francisco, where Y.A. Tittle and the 49ers nearly derailed the Lions en route to their last NFL championship.

The Lions prevailed that day on the legs of Tom "The Bomb" Tracy ...

... but road playoff games have been a nightmare for them ever since.

In the years since they knocked out the Niners, the Lions have traveled to Washington, Philadelphia, Green Bay, back to San Francisco, and Tampa Bay, and every time they've come home with their tails between their legs.

The last time the Lions went to Dallas for a playoff game, it did not go well.

Of course, home field advantage is no guarantee either:

But maybe this time it's different.
Maybe this team's got what it takes.

To slay the Cowboys and the ghosts of playoffs past, the Lions need to do more than just play error-free football today.

Kyle Meinke over at MLive says the Lions need to score more than 20 points to win.

I say better make it 30.
Just to be safe.

On second thought, 40 sounds pretty good.
Hell, better make it 50.

For the Lions to win in Dallas today, everyone has to contribute.
Offense, defense, referees.

Sure, they're underdogs (again), but who knows ... maybe with Dominic Raiola and Ndamukong Suh back in uniform, they just might stand a chance.

Maybe these Lions will finally take flight:

Who knows?

We can't rule anything out (it's not even halftime yet).

Maybe if Stafford can conjure up the spirit of Kramer.

Maybe if Prater can conjure up the spirit of Eddie ...

Maybe if they can all conjure up the Spirit of Detroit ...
Detroit Free Press
If Lady Luck and the Big Buck smile upon them, maybe — just maybe — the Lions can pull this off.

Of course, a little prayer couldn't hurt either.

"Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus. Amen.”

Dave Mesrey is a veteran journalist who’s worked for the Metro Times, Hour Detroit, and ESPN’s The editor of Willie Horton’s autobiography, “The People’s Champion,” Mesrey was also a creative consultant on the 2013 Tiger Stadium documentary “Stealing Home.”

A version of this post first appeared on the blog of The Detroit Athletic Company.