Nate Caminata - Publisher
In 1999, the impermeable St. Louis Rams entered the Pontiac Silverdome expecting one thing; to roll over the 5-2 Detroit Lions.
The 6-1 Rams, still attempting to shed the "luck" stigma following a loss to the Titans the week before, were heavily favored walking into the motor city.
Prior to the game, a St. Louis assistant lashed out at future competition following the Rams first loss of the season, forecasting that his team wouldn't lose another game.
One day later, reports ran rapid that hell did, indeed, freeze over.
In a magical evening, amid a sound encompassing Silverdome, Detroit held the consummate Rams offense to just 12 points entering the 4th quarter, harboring a 21-12 advantage. After a St. Louis comeback handed the Lions a three point deficit with under a minute remaining, divine intervention was posterized with one play that every Lions' fan would revert back to later in the season for sentiment.
Facing a 4th and 26, Lions' backup quarterback Gus Frerotte, replacing an injured Charlie Batch, found the hands of Germane Crowell on a 55-yard connection. It later led to a game-winning Johnnie Morton touchdown reception.
Two seasons later, an unmodified yet rather improved Rams ball club looks to improve upon an unblemished 3-0 record, along with a willingness to exact revenge.
And an unbalanced, uncoordinated, and winless Detroit team heads into a nationally televised contest. In 1999, the Lions were at least considered contenders. In 2001, fans are already looking forward to next year's NFL draft.
"This time we don't even have the good start like we've had in past years to fall back on," wide receiver Herman Moore told the Free Press. "We're getting to the point where we need a win just for survival's sake. Nobody thought that we would get off to this slow a start. It's like it's been a bad dream."
A nightmare is perhaps more fitting.
Detroit's primary concern with the Rams is speed. Two years ago, the Lions were able to counteract the St. Louis track meet by doubling up on occasion, playing a deep zone defense, and keeping continuous heat on Rams' quarterback Kurt Warner. It was a combination of those factors that prevented St. Louis from embarassing Detroit.
Thus far into the 2001 season the Detroit defense hasn't even been able to keep up with average receivers, and quarterback pressure is applied sparingly at best.
"Somehow, some way we have to counteract their speed," said Lions' head coach Marty Mornhinweg, who has kept Detroit's defensive plans confidential. "They have speed on offense – world class speed all over the place – and they have speed on defense. It's very quick as well."
The Detroit Lions are notorious for bringing the unexpected when faced with the expected ... especially before a nationally televised audience. But as we've all been programmed, this isn't the same Detroit Lions team. This could spell a nationally televised embarassment.
With the defense attempting to negate the Rams' offense, we haven't even begun to discuss the quarterback dillema Detroit is currently facing.
What's Gus Frerotte up to these days?