Vikings Corner: Lions have fallen apart while Vikings have improved in two years
"Every team loses," Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's a fact of life in the NFL."
The first-year coach emphasized this point after being lit up for six touchdown passes in a 45-27 loss last week at New Orleans.
Clearly the coach is trying to put things into perspective and shift focus off the past, but it can't just be ignored completely.
Former Lions coach Rod Marinelli was asked if his team believed it was an elite team.
"Yeah," he said following a big win in 2007. "I mean I believe that and we can be that when we clean up and we don't miss tackles, we play with good fundamentals, protect the football; we'll be really good."
There were more smiles on Ford Field back then.
"We're going to really be good," Marinelli predicted. "If we can continue to do those things. If you think you have those things sewn up, you're crazy in this game."
Let the foolishness ensue.
It was November 4, 2007 and the high flying Lions had just finished a 44-7 shellacking of the Denver Broncos. It was the first time they had won three games in a row since the 2000 season and with a 6-2 record they were thinking playoffs as well.
Next door, the Vikings had just beat the Chargers 35-17. Rookie Adrian Peterson rattled off 253 yards in the second half to finish with a NFL record 296. Peterson already rushed for 1,000 yards on the year, but the Purple were mired at 3-5.
The Vikings finished 5-3 down the stretch, 8-8 overall. The Lions on the other hand, won only one more game that season.
Well, actually ever. Not only did they miss the playoffs they have won only once since then, a lonely 1-24.
Accepting a loss as a "fact of life" would be fine if you have actually won a game or two, but the Lions are still looking for rock-bottom.
"The way you deal with it," Schwartz labored on. "And what happens as a result of the loss, is what separates the good teams from the bad teams."
Sunday those two teams meet, good and bad.
Last week Detroit challenged the league's best passer and lost convincingly. This week they get the league's best rusher and the story should be the same, but Minnesota barely beat the woeful kitties last year, a combined six-points the difference.
To be the "good" team, the Vikings will need to build on their week one tune-up at Cleveland and win forcefully. In no way, can this game go down to the wire.
Minnesota's defense will once again dominate the show and pressure rookie quarterback Matt Stafford into mistakes. Offensively though, is where the Purple must prove themselves, that they can use Peterson's legs to set up the pass.
Last week Brett Favre only threw for 85 yards.
"This offense is different," he said when asked how his age has affected his play. "We can rely on the run more, we don't have to make as many over the top type of plays. At some point we'll have to pass like you do in every game, but there may be a game where we have to rely solely on the pass. And I hope that at that point I can make those plays, but I don't feel restricted."
The Vikings open the season with a soft schedule, but host Green Bay in two weeks. Favre needs to use this game to ensure he can make those plays, not just hope.
If he can't, we could see coach Schwartz give the exact same post-game speech this week, except this time it would be with a smile.
"Every team loses."