HBO's Hard Knocks was more than simply Detroit Lions propaganda apparently

They have been one of the NFL’s best teams since November

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What is going on in Detroit.
What is going on in Detroit.
Image: Getty Images

Grit is all well and good, but it takes far more than turning a cliche sports term into an acronym on national television to get the most out of professional athletes.

The Detroit Lions are a professional football team in the NFL. Working to apply any synonym for toughness to the way that they play should help, but not nearly as much as creative coaches and a talented roster.

It’s going to take more than metaphorically biting kneecaps to turn a franchise around that has been one of the NFL’s worst for most of the new millennium. The Lions can claim to be as tough as they want, but without quality play, the results would still be as blue as the logo on their helmets.

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They are currently on a roll, having won five of their last six games. Their most recent victory was against not only a division rival, but also the team with the second-best record in the NFL. That 34-23 score doesn’t even tell the entire story of the Detroit Lions’ victory against the Minnesota Vikings.

A double-digit victory against a team with only two losses is great, but the Lions dominated the day by even more than the final score shows. They took the lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the second quarter and never relinquished it. Kirk Cousins passed for 425 yards because the Vikings were in scramble mode for the entire second half — and there are house flies easier to follow than Justin Jefferson on a football field.

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Jared Goff put up his own impressive passing day with 330 yards and three touchdowns, as he singed the Vikings’ suspect defense all day long. He completed passes to nine different pass catchers, including that crucial late fourth-quarter 3rd-and-7 on a tackle-eligible play to Penei Sewell.

The Lions are now 6-7, and not only prowling around the playoff picture, but also mathematically still capable of winning the NFC North. All of this after starting the 2022 season 1-6. During that stretch, they lost a road game to the New England Patriots 29-0, and followed it up by getting shellacked 24-6 at AT&T Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys.

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Turning that around to win six of their last seven games, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, might need to be a team award this time around, and be awarded to the Lions. They lost several one-score games in 2021, and at one point the defeats brought Campbell to tears. Some late-season victories allowed that season to end with hope, which could’ve all been erased before Halloween this year.

Instead, the Lions have proven that anyone who believed that after Hard Knocks, that they would be significantly better than they were in 2021 would ultimately be correct. Regardless of Goff’s Week 14 performance, and a defense that still very much needs a talent infusion, the Lions have climbed their way out of the depths of the NFL. If their defense would have held steady in September, maybe the Lions would currently be holding onto one of the seven NFC playoff spots, instead of needing a calamity of errors to qualify.

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Still, this should be evaluated as a major victory for the Lions. They refused to crumble into their usual losing ways, and are currently one game under .500. Regardless of whether getting their included elusive touchdowns, or gnawing on kneecaps, the Lions deserve the respect of the football-watching public.