DREW SHARP: Detroit Lions should embrace bad boy image

By Drew Sharp

DENVER — Black hats don’t clash with Honolulu blue. They might provide the perfect accoutrement for a team swimming against a tide bent on defining it as a cabal of evil football heretics.

Why fight it, Lions? Just roll with it.

Even Ndamukong Suh joked that evil ruled this Sunday. Yes, it was an NFL-choreographed morality tale set in an altitude only slightly higher than the crazed mania surrounding the designated hero.

ROUGH LINE: A personal foul was called on Detroit Lions’ Corey Williams after hitting Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the helmet with his elbow during first half action. (MCT photo)

The Lions decimated the myth of Tim Tebow. A day of rest this wasn’t for the Mile High Messiah. The Lions relentlessly hounded and harassed the Denver quarterback. They sacked him. They forced fumbles. They scored two defensive touchdowns. They rattled him into throwing more passes to the sidelines than to eligible receivers.

They rendered him mortal. How dare they?

“We didn’t really pay attention to that whole Tebowmania thing going on,” said Cliff Avril, who recorded the equivalent of a grand slam for a defensive lineman — a sack, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble and a touchdown on the same play.

The Lions were more interested in rediscovering their own mania. And they never will get another victory this easy.

Their 45-10 win over Denver slowed the hemorrhaging of the past two weeks, but it’s only a permanent cure if the wretchedly awful Broncos are on the schedule every week in the season’s second half.

This was a must win, if only because the Lions didn’t desire entering a bye week facing the cascade of doubts and criticisms that would have followed them with a three-game losing streak.

The offensive rhythm returned. They dictated the tempo. Coming off two weeks in which Matthew Stafford’s accuracy disappeared along with the offense’s knack for the big play, the snap was back. They used more quick tosses on first down and employed a more effective overall game plan that better exploited defensive gaps in the middle of the field.

“The biggest thing we wanted to do was just come out and play like us,” said Stafford, who completed 70% of his passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. “The attitude and tempo, we hadn’t really had that the last couple weeks.”

They’re now 6-2.

“It’s better than 5-3,” Stafford said.

But 6-2 starts aren’t anything new. It served as the apex of the Matt Millen-Rod Marinelli marriage four years ago. The pair won one more game together. Bobby Ross amazingly coaxed a 6-2 start out of a 1999 team still wobbly from Barry Sanders’ abrupt retirement. There was similar talk of playoff guarantees and first-round home games. But they stumbled to 8-8, losing their last four, only making the playoffs because of a lucky series of breaks.

So 6-2 doesn’t guarantee anything. It just keeps the Lions in the playoff discussion.

But that’s not the only discussion involving them. The Lions confirmed that Suh would meet with league officials Tuesday because he sought what the league called in a statement “a deeper understanding of NFL rules and policies.”

Suh insists he doesn’t worry about perceptions that he’s a dirty player, but clearly he was concerned enough to approach the league about a meeting.

“To me, it’s just an opportunity to go out there and have a good dialogue and see what I can take from that meeting,” Suh said, adamantly adding that he would not change his style.

But coach Jim Schwartz also took exception to NFL.com labeling the Lions-Broncos clash within the context of Tebow vs. Suh, “good” vs. “evil.”

“I think I’ll just say what I said Friday,” Schwartz said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate at all for anybody associated with the game to bill it that way.”

But it’s becoming a label. The Lions are becoming the Bad Boys of the NFL.

Go with it. It didn’t hurt the Pistons.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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