by | Nov 17, 1997 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

I am sitting here with my hands over my eyes. My hands over my ears. My hands over my mouth.

See no past. Hear no past. Speak no past.

That is my philosophy this morning. The Lions’ 38-15 thumping of the once-mighty Minnesota Vikings? A work of art. It stands alone. It hangs on the wall in a gold leaf frame. I don’t want to know about the losses that preceded it. I don’t want to know the pattern of this Detroit franchise, winning when it absolutely has to, collapsing once the heat is off.

As they said in the ’80s, don’t ruin my buzz.

Did you see that performance Sunday? Did you see the Lions’ offense? They scored early. They scored late. They scored at every coffee, hot dog and Cracker Jack break. In the third quarter, when they scored a field goal, they actually took the points off the board and scored a touchdown instead.

Field goals? We don’t need no stinkin’ field goals.

“Overwhelming confidence,” said Herman Moore, when asked to describe Sunday’s huddle. “Overwhelming confidence.”

Do I question a game like that? No I do not. That would be like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Like spray-painting the Sistine Chapel. Like making Maria Callas sing with the Spice Girls.

Sorry. When Tommy Vardell scores three touchdowns, all bets are off.

“If we play like we did today,” Vardell said, “we should never lose a game.”

Look! I’m quoting Tommy Vardell!

You want me to second-guess a game like that?

As they said in the ’70s, don’t bum me out.

The patient’s vital signs are just fine

Sure I could wonder about Scott Mitchell. I could ask how his hamstring was too hurt to play last week, yet he managed to move just fine on Sunday. But what do I look like, “ER”?

“It couldn’t have been hurt that bad,” said a winking Johnnie Morton, “you have to actually be able to run fast to hurt your hamstring.”

Fine by me, Dr. Morton. I accept your diagnosis. I prefer to savor Mitchell’s wonderful slant pattern toss to you for a score. Or his pinpoint pass to Herman Moore in the back of end zone. I’ll focus on his 21 completions in 29 attempts, his 271 yards.

What’s that, you say? The passes Mitchell escaped on? Like the one that was intercepted in the end zone but came back on a Minnesota penalty? What are you, with the media?

As they said in the ’60s, don’t bring me down. “This might have been Scott’s best game of the season,” coach Bobby Ross said. “We probably need to strain his other hamstring.”

Good idea. Somebody hit him!

Whatever it takes to duplicate this effort. This wasn’t just a passing game, this was a running game of varied proportions. Did you see Barry Sanders, leaving a trail of Vikings with pinched nerves from twisting their necks as he ran past?

By the end, Barry had 108 yards, Vardell had three touchdowns, and Ron Rivers had 51 yards and a 12.8 per-carry average. I don’t want to say Rivers doesn’t see much action, but when he checked into the game, the refs said,
“Which team do you play for?”

It was that kind of Sunday. The defense was powerful. And the offensive line was tremendous. They kept Mitchell protected. They opened holes for halfback and fullbacks. They deflated the celebrated Minnesota defensive front.

“You could see when we scored before halftime (to go up 24-7),” said lineman Jeff Hartings, “they were like, OK, it’s a loss, let’s just get outta here.”

Am I going to ruin that? Am I going to spoil it with reminders that the Lions are only 5-6, that they still trail the division leaders by three games?

As they said in the ’50s, beat it, Daddyo.

It’s a win; just leave it at that, OK?

As for the rest of the Vikings? Sure. We could ask questions. We could ask how a team that beat Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Carolina and New England, a team that won its last six games, a team that everyone was calling the hottest surprise in football — can collapse like a Donald Trump casino bid.

But why would we want to?

Leave it alone. Hasn’t this Lions franchise taught us that when something good happens, you appreciate it but never hold it up to the light? Do not examine. Do not assume a pattern. This is a team that has beaten Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, but has lost to New Orleans.

What did they do differently on Sunday?

“We went to reckless abandon with our offense,” said Morton. “We opened it up,” said Moore.

“We spread the ball around,” said Vardell.

So why wasn’t it tried before?

“We just do what the coaches tell us,” said Moore.

You see? All that comes from analysis is the need for psychoanalysis.

Better to let Sunday sit there on the shelf, a wonderful memory, a day when Honolulu blue jerseys were everywhere they wanted to be. Ignorance is bliss. Perspective is a downer . . .

What’s that? Next week? A game against a lousy Colts team that has one win all year? A perfect game for the Lions to lose?

As they say in the ’90s, shut up, Beavis.

Mitch Albom will sign copies of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Tuesday, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Barnes and Noble, Ann Arbor; Wednesday, 12:30-2 p.m., Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids; and Thursday, 7-8, B.Dalton, Livonia Mall. To leave a message for Albom, call 1-313-223-4581.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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