The NFL season is often referred to as a marathon in an effort to illustrate the grueling nature of a 16-game season where the next contest is commonly the most important.
Although that analogy holds merit, a better comparison may be the Baja 1000, a long-distance off-road race.
Like the NFL season, the Baja 1000 is a grueling competition. Also, like the NFL season, there are major bumps along the journey.
The Detroit Lions are currently navigating through a rocky portion of the course known as their 2011 season.
The key to getting past a bump in the road, which may be easier said than done, is putting it in the rearview mirror.
“We can’t get too emotional after a big win and we can’t get too emotional after a big loss because over exaggerating things will ultimately come back to bite you in the end,” said receiver Nate Burleson. “For us to get to where we want to go we have to put things behind us fast. The only time you remember the last game is in the post season because that decides if you move on.
"Right now, in the regular season, for us to be successful on Sunday, we have to forget about the last Sunday.”
The forgettable performance Burleson is referring to is last Sunday's six-turnover, 24-point loss to a division rival and playoff contender, the Chicago Bears.
In their game directly prior to the loss to the Bears, the Lions were on the opposite end of the spectrum as they dismantled the Denver Broncos 45-10.
With such disparity between the team’s two most recent contests, what is the feeling amongst the team?
“It’s exactly the same,” said Burleson. “That’s the sign of the team maturing, the signs of us understanding the real NFL season.”
The real NFL season can be turbulent enough to rattle the confidence of talented athletes and strong competitors. Sometimes it takes more than maturity to maintain self-belief; it takes collective talent to confirm the confidence.
“We have a bunch of great guys around here,” said defensive tackle Corey Williams. “They got that winning taste in their mouth right now and we are going to do what we have to do to continue to win. We lost a tough one to Chicago and we are going to use that as a motivator to perform like we know we can perform.”
After each one of their six victories, players and coaches alike echoed the same mantra: they needed to work on improving as standing still is the same as moving backwards.
After their losses, their approach has not differed. They have worked hard to correct their mistakes and prepare for the next opponent.
The high level of focus is achieved because the confidence within the team does exist.
The NFL season is a bumpy ride with peaks and valleys and the only consistency a team can count on is the focus they sustain.
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