MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: After four games, this Lions team should stand on it's own

Posted Sep 29, 2013

The Lions are better, stronger and tougher than any of the previous four seasons, including 2011, when they made the playoffs with a 10-6 record

Beware of making comparisons between what the Lions did to the Chicago Bears on Sunday to anything they’ve done in other seasons to other teams, the Bears included.

Blow-out victories, overtime victories, coming back from deep holes – they’re all laid out to pick and choose from for how Sunday’s 40-32 victory over the Bears at Ford Field lines up with anything the Lions have accomplished.

One quarter of the way into the 2013 season, this Lions team should stand on its own. It doesn’t compare to any other team since Jim Schwartz took over as head coach in 2009.

The Lions are better, stronger and tougher than any of the previous four seasons. That includes 2011, when they made the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

They played a lot of that season like Harry Houdini – escaping from one lock box after another to beat the likes of the Vikings, Raiders and Cowboys. It had to be a trick, right?

Sunday’s game against Chicago wasn’t perfect. There were a few loose threads in the end, when the Bears scored two touchdowns and added a pair of two-point conversions to turn the final score from a rout into something respectable.

But overall, it meant something to battle head-to-head and come out with a victory against a Bears team that was 3-0 going into the game, and who had beaten the Lions nine times in the last 10 games.

The standings show that the Lions and Bears are tied for first in the North with 3-1 records. But until the Lions and Bears meet again in Chicago on Nov. 10, the Lions will know that they were the better team Sunday. And if they’re honest with themselves, the Bears will know it, too.

The Lions went into this season with the mind-set that they’ll play their game and not worry about what the outside world thinks.

"We can’t worry about what other people say about us," Schwartz said after the game. "We know who we are."

Center Dominic Raiola talked about a session with his teammates Saturday night.

"I’ve never felt a locker room where guys had the same goal," Raiola said. "We’ve completely got it."

Raiola was asked where Sunday’s rated with some others.

"A flash back to 2011," he said.

It is impossible not to make a comparison to the Lions-Bears game two years ago. It was Game 5, and the Lions’  first game on Monday Night TV since 2001. The atmosphere was part rock concert, part sports event – and part free drinks night at the local American Legion Hall.

There was enough electricity in the air to keep the lights burning in Detroit for a week. The Lions won, 24-13, to make their record 5-0.

In Sunday’s game, the Lions’ stars lead the way and the role players stepped up.

Reggie Bush gave the Lions everything they’d been missing – and more – since Jahvid Best went down early in the 2011 season. Bush gained 139 yards on 18 carries and capped off a 27-point second quarter explosion with a 37-yard touchdown run.

Calvin Johnson caught a two-yard TD pass over Bears cornerback Peanut Tillman, an old nemesis.

Stafford was good most of the game. He kept drives going with a short passing game, and he didn’t force anything. His one interception was on a weird play, when the ball bounced off Johnson’s foot to Bears safety Major Wright.

On defense, the Lions got three interceptions from their safeties. Louis Delmas had two and Glover Quin one.

And there was Ndamukong Suh. There is plenty of time left in the season to consider where Suh stands among the rest of the league’s defensive players. Suffice to say, if anyone has played better in the first quarter of the season, it’s a well kept secret.

He sacked Jay Cutler twice, had two tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. His second sack caused a fumble that Nick Fairley returned for a touchdown.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t things that could have been done better. There always are. There were a couple of coverage breakdowns late, and Joique Bell lost a fumble when the Lions were trying to run out the clock.

"We played well, but we didn’t play our best game," Stafford said. "That’s for sure."

Schwartz was asked about the defense, which had three interceptions and a fumble recovery, playing Lion Football. His answer was a general statement about his team’s makeup.

"Lion football is getting a win however we can get it," he said. "Honestly, I don’t care about stats or anything other than the final score. We got the win today. All the scoring is for fantasy players.

"I’m worried about winning games. Anyway we get them, we’ll take them."