As the clock ticked away in Detroit's 30-14 win over the heavily-favored Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Lions' wide receiver Roy Williams issued a question to the rest of his teammates: "Where have these Lions been the whole season?"
Williams helped propel the team's offense to a 435 yard performance (the most since 2004), including 138 receiving yards on six catches, but it was a complete team effort -- perhaps the first of the year -- that allowed the Lions (2-6) to secure their second win of the season. Both offensively and defensively, Detroit was relatively sound, shutting down the feared Falcons' running attack and, in doing so, a relatively solid passing offense led by the typically electric Michael Vick.
On Sunday, Vick was neither typical or explosive.
The Lions entered the contest with one of the league's worst pass defenses, but forced Vick into two early turnovers and capitalized with two Kevin Jones' touchdown runs. Vick managed only 163 passing yards, but Atlanta (5-3) managed just 3 of 11 on third down opportunities and were unable to register a first down in the first 18 minutes of the second half.
"You know what it is? It's playing each snap," said Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli after the win. "It's just playing each snap (and) playing as hard as you can. Get a bunch of guys that really like to play football and want to do it the way we want it and the second and third efforts were really good.
"The thing we talked about all week up front and the linebackers - when you're chasing (Michael Vick), the first guy, the second guy and the third guy are probably going to miss. It's going to be the fourth guy to run him out of bounds or get him down or stay alive."
The Lions tallied just two sacks on Vick, but applied consistent pressure throughout despite missing starters Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody. Misplaced defensive lineman Cory Redding, who was moved to defensive tackle from defensive end to help shore up the position, hurried Vick frequently.
"I thought they went in and they really attacked their front and they did a nice job with leverage, staying low, coming off blocks (and) they cut and stuff on the back-side. We got up off the ground - we emphasized stay off the ground," said Marinelli. "If you do get cut, get up and run, get up and run. They just stayed disciplined. I thought they did a great job, really."
Marinelli cited his team's ability to maintain the lead, an issue that has plagued them all year, as a building block as Detroit moves forward with the rest of the season.
"The best thing I think, what I want, what I'm looking for, is just in the fourth quarter (and) all through the game just play one snap at a time," he said. "Not looking ahead, not looking behind and finishing the job. That part, the toughness I saw, is just something we got to build on because once you think you have it - you don't, you don't - you lose it in a second. So, we got to go back to work next week and continue to handle the fundamentals and see if we can keep improving this football team."
A common theme in the locker room following the win was momentum. Detroit's next three opponents -- San Francisco, Arizona and Miami -- are combined 6-18 after Sunday. If they're able to build on their complete performance, it is feasible that they could near the .500 mark before entering the crux of the schedule.
"I definitely think so," responded Jones, who carried the ball 26 times for 110 yards -- his second 100-yard game of the year. "I think it all started with Buffalo, then we went down there and didn't get the job done with the Jets, but if so we would have came into the bye and then we would have had this win. So we've just got to get another win and try to put back-to-back game together like today and we'll be fine."
Added center Dominic Raiola, "We expect a lot out of ourselves, and we feel that we're a good team. So these next games coming up, with San Francisco first, are big games and we feel that we can win them."