Back by popular demand this summer, it's the Detroit Lions "Ten Best" countdown. Every Monday over the next two months, we'll not only be counting down the best games, but also the best plays of last season. All of this will lead into our positional previews, which should take us through training camp and the preseason. Then, its finally time to play some football!
The Detroit Lions were feeling good after winning their first two games of the season. Standing in the way of a scintillating start were the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and their Metrodome of horrors. The Lions hadn't won in Minnesota since 1997.
Early on, it looked as if that streak would continue very painfully. The Vikings moved the ball on Detroit's defense, and though they managed two field goals in the first quarter, the seeds were planted. In the second, Donovan McNabb got a run from Adrian Peterson and fired a touchdown to Vinsanthe Shianco to provide the Vikings a commanding 20-0 lead at halftime. The Lions' offense was getting stymied and their defense was being run over. It seemed like a familiar script, likely causing plenty of shoulders to be shrugged across the metro area.
Too bad these weren't the same old Lions. Matthew Stafford calmly led a spectacular, epic comeback. It began with the first fantastic Calvin Johnson catch of the afternoon in the corner of the end zone. A field goal later, and the Lions were quickly back within 10. In the fourth quarter, it was game on. Johnson hauled in another touchdown slicing the deficit to three. The Lions had a bounce in their step, and completely nullifying Peterson on defense. Jason Hanson added two more field goals to pull Detroit ahead, but Ryan Longwell tied the game late after the Vikings finally crossed into Lion territory.
Considering the early hole, the Lions had to be thrilled to reach overtime. They won the coin toss, which essentially guaranteed victory. The offense was backed up though, and needed perhaps the catch of the year to finish the Vikings off. Johnson caught a remarkable, over the shoulder catch without turning around to put the Lions in field goal range. Hanson bombed a field goal through the uprights, ending the game and giving the Lions a huge road win.
From start to finish, this was perhaps the most remarkable divisional comeback the Lions had enjoyed in a long time. The epic rally showed much about the Lions character in 2011. The young team became galvanized by winning in a tough environment and coming out ahead. They showed they could come back even when the chips were down and things were falling apart.
As satisfying as this win was for Lions' fans, the biggest comeback of 2011 was surprisingly yet to come.
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