Detroit pumps up the volume as surging Lions move to 5-0
By Rick Telander email@example.com October 10, 2011 11:58PM
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) takes the field against the Chicago Bears before an NFL football game in Detroit, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Updated: December 10, 2011 1:34AM
DETROIT — There’s giddy.
There’s too giddy.
Then there’s Detroit.
Last we saw this place, we were talking pheasants downtown, urban farming and sidearms for anybody left.
Now we are nearly blown from the newspaper rack with USA Today’s Monday front page headline: “DETROIT RISING.’’
And this from the Monday Detroit Free Press: “LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS, OH MY!’’
And this from the inside of the Free Press: “To honor the occasion [the Tigers in the baseball playoffs, the first Monday Night game in a decade, the rise of Ford Motor Co. stock from $1.26 in 2008 to $11.21] Harry’s will be rolling out pitchers of beer with four kamikaze shots for $15 today.’’
That’s Harry’s Detroit Bar and Restaurant, just west of the football stadium.
How many ways can a city get drunk?
Hard to say, but upon arriving in this frenzied, lubricated place, you knew it was a pity that Detroit-spokesman/rapper Eminem recently went on the wagon.
The real enemy at the start of the Bears-Lions game at Ford Field was, indeed, the noise from the exuberant fans who believed the flashing signs on the end zone monitors: “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!’’
In one of the herkiest-jerkiest, loudest first quarters ever, the Bears jumped off-sides, pointed to their ears and called timeouts with such abandon that it looked like a free-for-all at a hearing-loss convention.
Consider: The Bears had four false starts and used all their first-half timeouts before the quarter was over. And the Lions — sensing road kill, perhaps —had seven penalties of their own.
Everybody knew that if the 4-0 Lions won this game they would be 5-0 for the first time in more than half a century.
That, surely, would be enough to start a new line of Edsels.
The fact the Tigers already had eliminated the hated Yankees in the AL Division Series and had just this AL Championship Series against the Rangers keeping them from the World Series was bread to the hungry souls of this city.
That the Tigers would lose to the Rangers, going down 2-0 in the series, just as the Bears-Lions game was starting, was maybe a good thing for everyone’s ears.
With all the hype surrounding Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the second-year, 6-4, 307-pound terror from Nebraska with the 35-inch vertical — what? — it seemed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler would be dead shortly after kickoff.
But the noise and the excitement and the imminent rebirth of Motor City didn’t mean much to the Bears’ offensive line.
Other than jumping the gun time and again, they pretty much kept Suh away from Jay early.
And, remarkably, Lions freakishly big and strong and fast wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s 73-yard touchdown catch at the start of the second quarter wasn’t enough for the Lions to lead at the half.
With the Bears riding the success of running back Matte Forte and Cutler’s big passes to Devin Hester and tight end Kellen Davis, they somehow led 14-10 early in the third quarter.
Of course, that couldn’t last when the Bears defense allowed things like Lions running back Jahvid Best’s 88-yard scoring run.
To say the Bears looked slow in the secondary would be like saying Detroit has empty buildings. Johnson’s and Best’s scores alone covered 161 yards, much of them free and clear.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who bears a stunning Jumbo-Tron resemblance to Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, was the key here. Stafford has managed to be injured for much of his NFL career, but his presence stabilizes a Lions offense that, like its defense, has benefited from, as veteran Detroit sportswriter Rob Parker puts it, “about 10 years of top first round picks.’’
So true. That’s how the NFL rolls. Stink for years and years and you get a chance for all the best players coming out of college.
Let’s remember that Detroit has declined more in population — from 2 million in 1950 to 702,000 today — than any large city in American history. That’s important if we’re talking about a region with 14.4 percent unemployment getting all joyed up over a team that only plays a sport and doesn’t build anything like crankshafts and carburetors.
The Lions haven’t lost a game since December 2010 — to the Bears —and if they continue like this, well, God bless them.
Every dog must have its day.