Analysis: Lions learning to win

Any Lions fan who raised a white flag after Oakland running back Justin Griffith took a Josh McCown swing pass in for a touchdown, pushing the Raiders in front 21-20, please stand. Everyone else who is still sitting can leave. Because you're lying.

Any Lions fan who raised a white flag after Oakland running back Justin Griffith took a Josh McCown swing pass in for a touchdown, pushing the Raiders in front 21-20, please stand.

Everyone else who is still sitting can leave. Because you're lying.

It wasn't Detroit's ridiculous aerial assault during Sunday's 36-21 season opening victory that was the most impressive. Nor was it the staunch defensive effort in crunch-time (although, how many times has that line been uttered with regard to the Lions?).

It wasn't even running back Tatum Bell's rather humorous taunting of Oakland's infamous band of degenerate fans that reside within the "Black Hole." (But more on that later).

Instead, the most notable item from Sunday's win was the fact that, for the first time in recent memory, the Lions remained steadfast and full of hope well beyond the confidence held by any fan that has watched this team for the past few decades.

Head coach Rod Marinelli and quarterback Jon Kitna echoed each other after the game, saying the team "didn't blink" even when it had blown a 17-0 lead. Even as the opposition had all of the momentum in the final quarter. Even on the road.

And even though they are the Detroit Lions.

Certainly, the detractors will preach that it's only the Raiders. Oakland was the only team worse in 2006 than the Lions. And they started McCown at quarterback, whom the Lions thought enough of to dump for a late-round pick back in April.

Besides, this is only one game, right?

But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that those same detractors won't dare mention that Oakland's defense was the fourth best in the league last year. Or that the Lions had won only one contest in their last 18 outings on the West Coast.

Because, for the first time in over a decade, the Detroit Lions were not 'the same old Lions.'

After building a lead, the Lions quickly lost it. But instead of packing it in, as witnessed from this team countless times, the Lions roared back. And they didn't just squeak past the Raiders, they pounded them into oblivion. They embarrassed them. And when they were done embarrassing the home team, they embarrassed its raucous fans.

Prior to Sunday's game, Tatum Bell learned that the Raiders had tabbed their defensive fumble drill the "Tatum Bell Drill," in response to Bell's case of fumbilitis while with Denver last year.

His response? An average of 5.8 yards per carry, and a soul-crushing 14-yard touchdown scamper, washed down with a tongue lashing for the already destitute Raider Nation.

Oh, and zero fumbles.

During the endless array of pre-game shows on Sunday, the folks at ESPN thought it would be clever to hire a 10-year old to provide his analysis and opinion of quarterback Jon Kitna's prediction of a 10-plus win season.

It was part of the endless commentary that mock more than fairly judge Kitna's apparently bizarre optimism.

(Note: A great message to send to both players and young athletes is that voicing a positive outlook on your own team will only be met with mockery and sarcasm. Thanks, ESPN.)

But after Sunday's victory over Oakland, the Lions will escape any criticism. For one week, anyway.

"I said it during the off-season," said Kitna after the game. "How we handle adversity is going to be a tell-tale sign of this football team, and I think we're starting to turn the corner."


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