Lions Seize Moment in Spotlight

By Rob Parker

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It was a chance for the city to shine.

Not only where the Tigers playing in the American League Championship Series on Monday, the Lions were also back on Monday Night Football for the first time in a decade.

Hence, the city was hyped. Everywhere you went in Motown during the day, there was a buzz about both games. After so many years of losing by both teams, they were both front and center and had a chance to make the locals proud.

The Tigers, though, couldn?t come through, losing, 7-3, in extra innings on Nelson Cruz?s 11th-inning, walk-off grand slam off Ryan Perry. The Texas Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0. Game 3 is Tuesday at Comerica Park.

That disappointment, though, didn?t last long because kickoff happened minutes before the fatal blow and fans focused in on the Lions, who had the biggest test so far this season, playing the Chicago Bears, a division rival.

On two mainly big plays ? one from Calvin Johnson in the air and one from Jahvid Best on the ground ? the Lions were able to score a 24-13 victory before a real sellout crowd of 67, 861 at Ford Field. A national TV audience watched the Lions improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1956.

"Our playmakers answered the bell tonight for us," receiver Nate Burleson said to the media after the magical night. "We know we were going to need that."

The Lions and Green Bay Packers, last year?s Super Bowl champion, are the only two teams in the NFL that are still undefeated after each won their first five games this season.

Downtown exploded as if the Lions had won the Super Bowl. Many, some who couldn?t get tickets, jammed local bars and clubs near the stadium to get a chance to be a part of the party atmosphere.

Inside Ford Field, fans were as loud as they ever had been in the new building. So much so, the Bears? defense picked up a crazy nine false-start penalties because they couldn?t hear over the noise that nearly raised the roof.

The Lions opened the scoring with a 73-yard touchdown from Matthew Stafford to Johnson, giving the Lions 7-0.

Up 14-10, the Lions got an 88-yard touchdown run from Best. He broke through the line and scrimmage and was off to the races, scoring untouched. It gave the Lions a 21-10 advantage. Both teams added field goal at the end to give you the final score.

The Lions didn?t fail, didn?t let the fans down in a moment they have been waiting for since 2001 when the Lions were embarrassed 35-0 to the St. Louis Rams at the Silverdome on Monday Night football.

That seems light centuries away now.

That?s why fans were so crazy afterward. The Lions have been doormats for a decade. They have been embarrassed so often and lost so many times and ways that fans want to believe the tide has finally turned in the favor.

With each win, fans start to believe more and more that this dream season is real not a tease. And while even the strongest Lion fan would admit they have had help staying undefeated ? the Vikings and Cowboys both played poorly in the second half to enable the Lions to erase huge deficits to win ? a win over the Bears would be a signal that they passed their biggest test yet.

"I don?t think we proved anything,?? Stafford said. ``We go out ? expecting to win every game."

While fans are celebrating as if the Lions have won something ? other than just games on the schedule to this point ? the Lions themselves haven?t. That?s a good thing. They know there is so much more to do in order to secure their goal of making the playoffs.

In 2007, the Lions were 6-2 at the break and failed to make the postseason, losing seven of their last eight. This team, for sure, is better than that team. Still, it?s a reminder that things can turn if you lose focus and don?t play the entire season through.

On this night, it was a chance for Lions fans to finally cheer the team they had a hard time cheering for during the last 10 years.

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