This isn’t boxing. By beating America’s Team, you don’t become America’s Team.
But in the case of the Lions coming back (again) to win on the road (again) in Dallas, that may have happened. For the 2011 season anyway, it appears as though Detroit has become the country’s Cinderella team. If you don’t have a team of your own or your team’s goals don’t grossly conflict with those of the Lions, you’re likely pulling for the league’s most infamous losers as they continue their wild ride toward 16-0 (tongue in cheek, sorta).
And if you’re one of those phony, by-default Cowboys fans, here’s your chance to abandon a sinking ship and jump on the Detroit bandwagon (never mind the conflicting metaphors). Because it isn’t Dallas’ year. Three weeks after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead for the first time in franchise history, the Cowboys collapsed again, squandering a 24-point third-quarter lead at home. It was the biggest blown lead in Cowboys history.
In the process, the recently (and suddenly) aggrandized Tony Romo came crashing back to rock bottom with three second-half picks (two were returned for touchdowns). Detroit, which took 10 penalties, did its best to shoot itself in the foot while “marching” back from said deficit, but the Cowboys simply had too much firepower to assist in creating self-inflicted wounds.
Dallas drops to 2-2 with close-call victories against weak San Francisco and so-so Washington (at home). Their season isn’t over, but there have been some ominous signs that this team has issues on both sides of the ball, and the coaching staff is taking heat in the post-Wade Phillips era. For instance, why was Romo throwing passes at all, let alone risky ones, with a three-touchdown lead in the second half of a home game? The Cowboys are once again failing to show confidence in the running game, and Romo is once again failing to lead the offense with consistency. The combination is deadly against talented teams.
Detroit was the benefactor today, and now the Lions are riding an eight-game winning streak following their second consecutive three-touchdown comeback on the road. They return home now for three straight at Ford Field, where they’re significantly better. As long as Green Bay keeps winning, creating breathing room in the playoff race will be impossible. But this Detroit team doesn’t look as though it’s a flavor of the month.
Don’t be fooled. They’re far from perfect despite the record.
Sure, Calvin Johnson — who now has a record eight touchdown grabs in the first four weeks — has probably become the league’s best receiver, and Matthew Stafford seems to have the arm, the attitude and the drive to be a superstar, but the offense lacks balance. They mustered just 63 yards on the ground Sunday and are averaging less than three yards per carry at the quarter pole.
The offensive line is considered shaky and has a reputation for putting Stafford in the line of fire, but Stafford wasn’t sacked again by the Cowboys’ fierce pass rush Sunday. It was the third time in four games that Stafford made it through a game without being taken down for a loss. And if you can survive against the Cowboys’ front seven, you can survive against any front seven.
Despite taking a rather unconventional route to 4-0, they’re taking care of business. And they’ve done so with only one home game under their belt. They’re fun to watch, they’re young and proud and, relatively speaking, modest. And they’re representing a city that’s been through hell on and off the field.
In 2011, they’re America’s Team. At least on an interim basis.