ALLEN PARK — It was a subdued Victory Monday at the Detroit Lions practice facility. Most of the Mondays following a win on Sunday are, and that’s how coach Jim Schwartz likes it.
Yes, with the big 21-19 win at Chicago the Lions are alone in first place in the NFC North.
This is the latest in the season they’ve been atop the division since 1999. Their last division title came in 1993 when they were in the NFC Central.
The Lions (6-3) are one game back of the Saints (7-2) for the second first-round bye.
It’s all good.
But as Schwartz cautions, there is a long way to go and it’s too early to talk about the possibility of a home playoff game.
“We’re worried about this week and, good gracious, we have enough challenges to get through practice on a Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, go over game plan and stuff like that to start worrying about things that are two months down the road,’’ Schwartz said Monday.
“The only way we’ll get to two months down the road is if we do a good job in the moment. I like the personality of our team when it comes to that. I know it’s exciting for fans of our team and for people around the league but honestly I think you can get side-tracked by starting to get ahead of yourself as a team.’’
After the 21-19 win over the Bears, Reggie Bush told reporters that his message to his teammates was: “Don’t eat the cheese.” In other words, don’t buy into all the talk of the Lions’ success, just keep working hard.
“It’s increasingly becoming part of the scope of the NFL to deal with praise and to deal with the accolades and things like that,’’ Schwartz said. “It makes it difficult to stay level-headed and even-keeled throughout the course of the season ...’’
The Lions play at the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) on Sunday, followed by home games against Tampa Bay and Green Bay (Thanksgiving).