By: Herman Moore
Ford Lions Report Live Analyst
There is no denying that the Lions' 2012 season has been a huge disappointment. The Lions could end the year at 5-11, nearly completely the opposite of last year's 10-6 record, if they lose Sunday to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
Playing spoiler to the 9-6 Bears' playoff hopes can't be the only motivating factor for Detroit. No, it has to be more than that, something deeper. The Lions have nothing else – literally nothing after Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record – to play for in 2012 except pride.
Matthew Stafford also set a franchise record, surpassing the great Bobby Layne in career completions. But that too was overshadowed by a hard-to-swallow 31-18 loss this past Saturday to the Atlanta Falcons.
Fans will remember the milestones. They'll remember the year that was, and think about the year that could have been. But more importantly, they'll think of a team that they stuck behind through it all. All they want is a win.
Getting that win Sunday is imperative, especially because the Lions haven't beaten their rival since 2011 and boast a meager 7-16 record against Chicago since 2001. Give the fans something to look forward to. Show those in the stands at Ford Field that the season finale does hold meaning. Other than securing a top five draft pick in next year's draft, Lions followers haven't been given much to hold on to.
The 2012 campaign was an uphill climb from the start.
Although the Lions won 10 games in 2011, this season wasn't going to be anything less than a battle. Sustained success is much more difficult than pulling a 10-win season out of the blue. But the Lions slipped backward by repeating typical mistakes and committing similar blunders that prompt some to coin them the "Same Old Lions."
Detroit is a franchise searching for ways to win. Not since the mid-90s have the Lions had such great talent on both sides of the ball as they do now. With Stafford leading the way, there is no reason why the Lions shouldn't compete for NFC-North titles each year.
The defense has shown promise, despite hiccups in judgment during key junctures.
And Calvin Johnson…well, what more can be said about him? He's the most dominant receiver in the game today. You can bet he felt the pressure come camp. In 2011, he climbed to elite status with 1,681 yards, 96 catches and 16 touchdowns.
This year he touts a new league-high 1,892 yards. But he has just five touchdowns.
Duplicating a year like 2011 would be a task for any receiver, even a guy like Rice. Megatron certainly raised the bar this year.
The future is bright for the Lions – don't quickly discount them just yet. Obviously, there is room for improvement – and that's not just on the field, either. Detroit has to avoid earning the "bad boy" label. It's good in basketball, but not so great in football.
The Lions' image didn't get any help. The actions of a select few set a negative tone before camp. With those type of distractions, it's no wonder Detroit was unable to fully come together.
That's not an excuse for the Lions, it just points back to the fact that this season was marked from the beginning. Success breeds success, but negativity breeds negativity. There are two options: 1. Put this year in the rear view, but make sure you learned from it, 2. Let this year's transgressions spill into next season and see a repeat.
Herman Moore joins Tom Leyden and Rob Rubick on the Ford Lions Report Live every Sunday at 11am throughout the season. You can follow Herman on Twitter @HMAN84 | Tom on Twitter @TomLeyden | Rob on Twitter @RRubick