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The Detroit Lions Head For The Playoffs

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Recently, the Detroit Lions have been winning and dominating the football world. With playoffs coming up, they will face off against the Los Angeles Rams; a team notorious for their powerful player, Matthew Stafford.

The Lions have not won their division since 1993, and since then have not won a playoff game. While their spirit remains strong, their skill has not always matched. With their loyal fans backing them however, the Lions have once again returned to the spotlight this year as their team advances to the playoffs.

To understand the journey of the Lions though, there must be a rewind to January 5, 1992: the last day the Lions won the playoffs. Back then, some of their key players included running back Barry Sanders, anchor Lomas Brown, wide receiver duo Herman Moore and Brett Perriman, and linebacker Chris Spielman. With an impressive offense and outstanding defense, the Lions were prepped for their incredible win in 1992. The team went 12-4 during the season and ended up hosting the Dallas Cowboys, where the Lions had a spectacular finish of 38-6. With this immense success, no one expected it to be the beginning of a 30-year dry season for the Lions.

Following this win, the Lions would go on to miss the next playoffs with a 5-11 record. Theoretically, this would give the Lions a high draft pick for the first round. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Their first pick in the ‘93 draft was during the second round where they selected Ryan McNeil. As a solid corner with 31 interceptions in his career, McNeil was a good candidate, but the 1993 season proved to be tough for the Lions. They finished with a record of 10-6 and won the NFC Central Division title but later would lose when facing off against the Green Bay Packers led by Brett Favre.

In the Lions vs. Packers game, with 55 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Brett Favre threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe which then allowed the Packers to gain a lead of four, eventually leading to the Lions’ loss, 28-24. This marked the last home playoff game the Lions would play for quite some time. From there, the Lions went on a playoff losing streak that has lasted until this year. Ranging from losing their linebacker Chris Spielman in 1996, wide receiver Brett Perriman in 1997, and Barry Sanders in 1999, the Lions had their fair share of losing valuable players over the years.

Although things seemed to truly hit rock bottom in 2008. This is the year the Lions posted the first 0-16 season in NFL history. Desperate for a better season, in the 2009 draft they selected quarterback Matthew Stafford. With the new rookie quarterback, a third-year receiver, and new head coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions were expected to improve that year, in which they finished 2-14. In the 2010 off-season, the Lions then drafted Ndamukong Suh and Golden Tate. Things began to look up as they finished that season 6-10 and then had a fantastic finish the following year with a 10-6 record. Their surprising finish allowed them to advance to the 2011 playoffs as the wild card team. Despite losing against the New Orleans Saints, simply making the playoffs and competing showed that the future was bright for the Lions.

However, expectations were not met until 2014 after former head coach Jim Schwartz was fired and replaced with Jim Caldwell. During Caldwell’s first season, the Lions finished 11-5, making the playoffs once again. Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and Ndamukong Suh had one of the best seasons of their careers during this time while Golden Tate showed massive improvement as he made his first Pro Bowl. Things once again went downhill as Calvin Johnson announced his retirement and Jim Caldwell was replaced with Matt Patricia.

While Patricia had some previous defensive experience from his time with the New England Patriots, his journey with the Lions seemed to be abysmal. The Lions seem to have a history of wins followed by losses. Patricia led the Lions losing until 2020 when his coaching position was replaced mid-season by interim Darrel Bevell. On January 20, 2021, the Lions then hired Dan Campbell.

Due to the Lions trading their longtime quarterback, Matthew Stafford, to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff, Campbell had some work to do. During the off-season, the Lions built a majority of the core players that make up the 2023 NFC North Champions. Following their signing of receivers Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds, the Lions drafted Penei Sewell and Amon-ra St. Brown. While the record that season wasn’t the Lions’ best, many fans believed that Campbell’s new draft would turn out to be the right choice. During the 2022 off-season, Campbell once again added more players. He selected a defensive end, Aiden Hutchinson, along with Jameson Williams and Kerby Joseph. 

Following their new draft, the 2022 season was expected to go well, and yet, the first games showed anything but that. At the beginning of the season, the Lions’ had earned themselves a record of 1-6, leaving many previously hopeful fans uncertain of what was to come next. However, the Lions’ surprised everyone by turning their playing around and finishing the season 9-8, once again missing the playoffs, but leaving things looking bright.

Continuing to draft new players during the off-season, the Lions’ signed CJ Gardner Johnson, David Montgomery, Jahmry Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Branch.

With a new, full team ready to take on the season, the Lions were prepared. Entering strong, and continuing their strength throughout the remaining season, the Lions had just one more team to defeat before they could advance to the playoffs for the time in 7 years.

The deciding game was against the Minnesota Vikings. It was a close game and an emotional ride for both fan bases, with it coming down to Minnesota’s QB, Nick Mullens, firing a pass. The stakes were high for each team as the ball soared through the air while the Minnesota players reached to catch it, but it was intercepted by the Lions! This has led to the Lions advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and hosting a playoff game since 1993. 

The Lions were able to end their season 12-5, and it has been determined that they will go on to compete against the Los Angeles Rams on January 14. Things are looking good for the Lions so far, but the Rams will deliver a challenging and exciting game. This next week will be filled with either celebrations or disappointment. To any Lions fans, be sure to enjoy the winning for now, as history just might repeat itself.

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About the Contributor
Nolan Ferguson
Nolan Ferguson, Staff Writer
Nolan is a first-time journalist for the Hawk Herald website. He is a senior who works hard, has a creative mind, enjoys new ideas, loves to have fun, and makes sure the job gets done on time. Something Ferg is passionate about is programming theatrical lighting to music. In Ferg’s free time he loves to work on his light shows for either Eastern Basketball games or personal shows. You can often find him running light shows during basketball games or even performing light shows during halftime.
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