The Detroit Lions were built in a city known for its hard work. It is the perfect city for a team that has faced an uphill battle since the end of the 1950’s, and it only seems fitting that they would be fighting in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions as they face the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Green Bay Packers twice a year. Because of what the city of Detroit has represented for America for so many years, they deserve a team defining of the city’s character.
Although Hall of Famers have donned the Lions’ uniform, they have not found success. The Lions are a franchise riddled in disappointment and frustration. So much so, that it resulted in two premiere, franchise players opting to retire rather than suit up one more time for a franchise headed nowhere. With no NFL championship since 1957 and no Super Bowl wins, many of the current fans know nothing but losing. But even so, the Lions have come across some of the most unique talents the league has ever seen. These players have put on spectacular performances that are looked on by rival teams with nothing but sheer admiration. These are the top 10 moments in Detroit Lions History.
- 1935- 1st Championship 26-7 win over the Giants in a game covered in snow
- 73 yard TD run for Barry Sanders against the Green Bay Packers
- In 1953 the Lions won their 3rd Football Championship by narrowly defeating the Browns 17-16. The game winning touchdown came in the final two minutes on a pass by Bobby Layne.
- Megatron catches the ball with 3 defenders on him vs. Cowboys in a comeback victory
10. Detroit Lions Claim 2nd NFL Championship
In 1952, the Lions won their 2nd Football Championship (before the Super Bowl ever existed) after defeating the heavily favored, Cleveland Browns, who were making their third straight championship appearance. The Lions defense played a huge role after only allowing Cleveland to enter the red zone a few times the entire game, resulting in a 17-7 score in favor of the Lions.
9. Megatron’s One Handed Catch (One Of Many)
In 2012, against tight coverage, Calvin Johnson lived up to his name of Megatron as he managed to haul in a miraculous catch with one hand while being heavily covered by the Indianapolis Colts’ Cassius Vaughn. The Lions would eventually lose, but this was just another play to add to Johnson’s collection as he made the case for one of the best receivers in the league. Many would argue he WAS the best in the league.
8. Barry’s 85-Yard Run…With One Shoe
The Buccaneers couldn’t catch a break, as it seems like some of his longest runs were against Tampa Bay. One of the longest and most memorable was for eighty-five yards in 1994. The most interesting factor for this feat is that he lost his shoe during the run. Running down a football field in one shoe against professional athletes…only a job for Barry Sanders.
7. Come From Behind Win Of Epic Proportions
In 2011, the Lions were down as much as 24 points before their defense took over and returned two interceptions for touchdowns and put the game back within reach. Entering the fourth quarter still down by 13, Megatron scored 2 TD’s including the game winner with less than two minutes left, leading to a 34-30 win. It became the biggest comeback win on the road in NFL history, only heightened by the comments made by Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan before the game. It goes without saying, Ryan chose not to repeat those comments again after the game.
6. The 2,000 Club
In 1997 Barry Sanders joined the 2,000 club when he ran for 2,053 yards to complete the season. He became the 3rd player to reach this feat. 1997 was a special season as we saw so many great things from one of the greatest running backs of all time. Barry Sanders en route to surpassing 2,000 yards for the season, was named MVP for an absolutely historic season. Many who remember can still picture the incredible runs he made this season alone, making defenders miss as if he was a ghost. The elusive one will always be remembered for his 1997 campaign.
5. Detroit Lions Playoff Win Vs. Cowboys
In 1991 Detroit beat Dallas in the playoffs, the Lions’ first playoff win since 1957. The Cowboys, led by the Hall of Fame trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, lost by a score of 38-6 to the Detroit Lions in a game expected to be one-sided favoring the Cowboys. A great upset not only in Detroit Lions history but in NFL history.
4. Turkey Day Records
Calvin Johnson became the all time leader in Thanksgiving TD receptions in a game vs the Chicago Bears in 2014. He also became the fastest player to reach 10,000 receiving yards during his touchdown feat. Two records were broken in one day…with a nickname like Megatron, should we have expected anything less?
3. Fake Spike TD
In 2013, Matthew Stafford’s fake spike TD vs the Cowboys shocked viewers around the country! With the game on the line and the clocking ticking …most watching thought the logical move would be to stop the clock. Knowing that, Stafford made a gutsy play by not only faking out the defense, but his entire team and fan base by going for the TD and winning the game with zero seconds left. The looks on their faces as they literally watch Stafford jump over the top of the pile to score and not being able to stop him said it all. Stafford beat the Cowboys.
2. Thanksgiving Day Game
In the 1962 Thanksgiving Day game, the Lions beat the division rival Packers. Green Bay entered the game as being undefeated and actually beat every team they faced that season except for one game against their divisional foe, the Detroit Lions. That one blemish ruined the Packers’ chance to be one of the few teams to end the regular season with a perfect record. By ending the Packers’ hopes of an undefeated season, the Lions brought their fans an early Christmas gift.
1. Barry Breaks Free
In a game versus the Bears in 1992, Barry Sanders ran the ball and was almost immediately tackled by three different Bears’ players, but spun around escaping from all of them on his way to a 43-yard touchdown. It was an unbelievable play to unfold as he appeared to be swallowed up by the three players surrounding him, but somehow Barry did what he’s always done and magically disappeared from their grips. Avoiding player after player, watching that play you wouldn’t have known that the Bears were known for their defense.
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