by DONNIE VAPHIDES Section Editor
The Detroit Lions have put together an impressive run this season, possessing the second-best record in the NFL with seven wins and two losses. Their only losses came in the first week of the season against the Carolina Panthers, and then the Buffalo Bills in week 5.
If you had asked most people about the Lions heading into this year, they might have said that they will be just like they always are. The fans in Detroit have always been used to the disappointment of their team. The team had flashes of hope in the 1990s, when they had Hall of Fame running back (RB) Barry Sanders, but never made it far into the playoffs when they would make it.
“The Detroit Lions have really stepped up their play this season. They have come out on top and are an almost lock to make the playoffs. The team can even make it to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history if they keep this up,” said junior Xavier Van Sprang.
The team had potential last year, but fell apart in must-win games at the end of the year, missing the playoffs with a record of seven wins and nine losses. Injuries were costly in their late season collapse, as they were missing key players and had no depth to support them.
This season looked like it would be the same as they have been injury-prone as well. Unlike last year, this team has been solid filling in for injured players.
Huge injuries to the team this year have been star Wide Receiver (WR) Calvin Johnson, RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Tight Ends (TE) Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettegrew, and Joeseph Fauria, and star defensive Middle Linebacker (MLB) Stephon Tulloch.
The team stepped up and delivered just how they needed and have come up with game-changing plays.
One big addition has been WR Golden Tate. Tate was a part of last year’s Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Since his arrival in Detroit, he has led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns (TD) with 66 catches, 909 yards, and three TDs. He gives the offense a boost in speed and athleticism, and takes some of the coverage off of Calvin Johnson.
On the defensive side of the ball, second-year Defensive End (DE) Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah has shown why the team used the fifth overall draft pick last season. He has used his athleticism to get to the Quarterback (QB) five times this year, leading the team in sacks. His ability to wrap up the ball handler has helped him rack up 32 tackles.
Free Safety (FS) Glover Quinn has also been a solid contributor on defense in the secondary. He has led the team in interceptions (INT) with three this year, and has been an excellent asset to one of the best defenses in football.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been average this season, throwing for 2,496 yards, 13 TDs, and eight INTs. His ability to throw the ball deep is his main weapon, as his arm has been described as a “cannon arm” by analysts. He will be the future of the franchise for years to come.
“I believe Matt Stafford is one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL. He has one of the strongest arms, making his playmaking skills up there with the best,” said junior Sean McKeon.
The Lions have taken a new identity as they are making a name for themselves coming back down late in games. The team had problems holding leads late in games, and would usually ending up losing. This season, the team has come back in the final minutes on more than one occasion, giving the team the confidence they have needed to get the wins down the stretch.
With the season past the halfway mark, this team has the potential to finish the year with the best record in football, a feat they never would have imagined to accomplish.
How far do you think the team can go this year?