Pat Caputo: Galvanizing victory for Lions

Great teams find a way to win when not at their best.

The Lions nearly didn't lose to the Bears Sunday. They nearly beat themselves.

The key word: “Nearly”

While it was a subpar performance in just about every way, the ultimate 31-26 Lions’ victory pointed to the incredible progress they have made.

The Lions looked like they had been there before, behind but with plenty of time to win it. There was no panic. Conversely, the Bears handled having control late in the game as if it was something entirely new.

It was such an important win, too, for the Lions, who overcame three nonsensical interceptions of quarterback Jared Goff and a fumble on a kickoff return.

Each Detroit victory puts the Lions (8-2) a step closer to securing home field advantage as deep as possible in the playoffs. It could even net them a bye to the NFC semifinals.

The fact the Lions did pretty much everything wrong most of the game, and just right at the end, tells the tale.

This game should galvanize the Lions more than if it were even a blowout.

While it wasn’t a statistical wonder-type-of-game for the Lions, they did a tremendous job at the pressure points. Amon Ra St. Brown, for example, only had 77 receiving yards, but picked several low throws off the turf at key times, one for a touchdown.

The Lions’ defense, maligned after getting torched by the Chargers the week before, picked up the offense. They contained Justin Fields’ passing game, and guarded him well enough to the edges later in the game, by yielding some running yardage up the middle to Chicago’s backs. Because of the turnovers, Detroit’s defense was forced onto the field for 40 minutes.

Not sure if there is a metric which measures the probability of victory when turning over the ball four times coupled with a two-to-one time of possession disadvantage, but it is undoubtedly miniscule.

And that’s No.1 point about Sunday’s victory. While there is more than a little to clean up before Thanksgiving Day vs. the 4-6 Packers, the Lions found a win.

Don’t forget, rare is the team that doesn’t have a few stinkers along the way. The Eagles were upset by the Jets and nearly lost twice to the Commanders; the 49ers were downed three games in a row; the Chiefs lost to the Broncos; the Ravens blew a lead to the Browns, etc.

And while this was a bad one in many ways, it couldn’t possibly have smelled any better for the Lions at the end.

That’s why it falls into the category of a quality win, warts and all.

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