They say you can judge a team by how it handles adversity.
If this is true — and I believe it is — the Detroit Lions are the real deal.
Everyone said it was a game they should win against the Falcons who had lost four straight. But given the circumstances a Lions' loss would have been understandable.
Instead they come back with time running off the clock and then boarded the plane to Detroit with a 22-21 win.
How's this for adversity?
So they start on Sunday nearly 4,000 miles from home.
Four starters on offense are in street clothes — Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Brandon Pettigrew and LaAdrian Waddle. Don’t forget tight ends Eric Ebron and Joe Fauria who are also just spectators
Then early Nick Fairley gets carted off the field with a knee injury. This is after defensive tackle C.J. Mosley was sent home Saturday for violating team rules. So all of a sudden the Lions have two defensive tackles — Ndamukong Suh and fifth-round rookie Caraun Reid who played eight snaps on defense the previous game. Veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp steps in to help Suh.
Next man up indeed.
Matthew Stafford just didn’t have many dependable allies on the field. In the second half he made it work.
The defense seemed a little rattled without Fairley, but came out for the third quarter with a renewed sense of urgency thanks to a fiery speech by defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
Matt Prater missed his first attempt from 43 yards to win the game, stepped back five yards after a delay of game penalty and nailed the game-winner from 48.
Want to know the difference in this team from 2013?
There are a few new faces. Golden Tate has come up huge with Johnson sidelined. Safety James Ihedigbo is a difference maker too.
But mostly it’s the coaching staff led by Jim Caldwell.
Never say never.
It’s not one game at a time with him, it’s one play at a time.
It’s not magic, it’s hard work.
Clearly Caldwell has coached these guys up so when they do face adversity — and it can’t get much worse than having half the offense in street clothes and down 21-0 at the half — they make the most of every snap.
Yes, the season is just halfway over. But the Lions are 6-2, they get a week to rest and now, instead of looking for excuses, they find ways to win.