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Nate Caminata - LionsFans.com
If you were oblivious to the 2001 NFL season, yet were able to catch the concluding moments of the Detroit Lions' stunning 27-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, your first impression would've led you to believe the impossible: That Detroit had finally grasped the Lombardi trophy.
While that, indeed, is still very impossible, the pandemonium that erupted amongst both fans, players, upper management, lower management, a field maintenance crew, and, of course, the team mascot, was deceptive.
It was even rumored the Silverdome roof elevated sporadically at least 7 1/2 inches.
And you can blame the indistinct -- yet very positive -- chaos on the right knee of rookie quarterback Mike McMahon.
After McMahon's knee struck the turf in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter, the Lions had finally notched their first victory of the NFL regular season. It didn't come easy, however.
The Lions dominated the first half, which witnessed a Todd Lyght 59-yard interception return for a touchdown, and a McMahon one-yard score setup by a 69-yard Scotty Anderson reception. The team entered the second half harboring a commanding 20-7 lead.
However, that lead vanished when Minnesota answered with two Randy Moss touchdown receptions to hand the Vikings a 24-20 advantage. Detroit, who until that point had seemed unmotivated and out-of-sync both offensively and defensively, were in danger of blowing yet another second half lead.
The Lions responded to the pressure on their ensuing possession, as McMahon led an 80-yard, 13-play drive, which included a 22-yard quarterback scamper and ended on Schlesinger's one-yard touchdown burst.
After the two teams traded possessions for the remainder of the 4th period, Vikings' quarterback Todd Bouma -- with just 9 seconds remaining -- tossed an incomplete pass on 4th down to seal the Lions' win.
But it was McMahon who stole the show on Sunday.
The former Rutgers star accounted for 315 yards of total offense, completing 15 of 28 passes for 241 yards, and running for an additional 74 yards. It was McMahon's decisiveness, including no turnovers, that kept the ball club alive. Stewart finished with 91 yards rushing on 20 carries.
In the end, the Lions played spoiler, ending any chance of a Minnesota post-season berth. But that didn't seem to concern Detroit.
Head coach Marty Mornhinweg, frantically chasing his first victory as a Lions' head coach, found himself soaked from head-to-toe. Johnnie Morton launched his helmet into the air, and several Lions' seemed perplexed -- some forced to tears.
It wasn't a playoff victory. It wasn't a Super Bowl victory. But it was a start.
Monday's paper will read "1-12" for Detroit's current NFL standings. And while that chronicle may be brushed off, perhaps scoffed at by others, it will draw a smile from everyone in the Lions organization. And every fan of the honolulu blue and silver.
It was an early Christmas gift, and we're still busy unwrapping it.
The Lombardi Trophy will have to wait. It isn't going anywhere.