Let me step to the plate and be the first to offer the Lions this apology on behalf of the media: They were absolutely wrong for doubting you.
OK! OK! I mean, we.
There. Merry Christmas.
Not that there wasn’t cause for doubt about two months ago, when the Lions were 3-6. At that time, we had no proof this team could win a coin toss, let alone its next six games.
But after their 44-0 mercy killing of Jacksonville at the Silverdome on Sunday — I don’t want to say this game was over early, but five minutes after it started, the Jaguars were asking what time the bus left — the Lions are guaranteed a winning record this season and all but assured a playoff spot. Sunday was their biggest regular-season blowout ever and their first shutout in two years. Wayne Fontes, the Limping Miracle, hobbled off the field with one of the most productive offenses in NFL history — to go with his broken foot.
“The cast stays on!” Fontes yelled.
Hey. You take luck where you can get it.
Now, I still believe that making the playoffs and losing in the first round will not constitute improvement for this franchise. So do many players, including one who admitted Sunday, “We shouldn’t be fighting for a playoff spot at this point. We’re better than that.”
Nonetheless, their last defeat was a long time ago, and what they’ve done since is a Great Escape, worthy of applause.
And I know just the guys to lead it.
“Put your hands in the air,” sang Herman Moore.
“Like you don’t care,” added Brett Perriman.
“And throw us some money . . .”
“Like 35 million . . .”
Did I mention they were happy? And for our next number . . .
Well, why not? Moore and Perriman were just two record- setting performers during Sunday’s tilt, which was less a football game than an awards banquet. It began with Rodney Holman breaking the NFL mark for games played by a tight end. He got a huge ovation and kept the ball as a memento.
Then Moore and Perriman set the mark for catches by a pair of receivers. They got a huge ovation and kept the ball as a memento. Then Perriman made his 100th catch of the year. He got a huge ovation and kept the ball as a memento.
Then Moore and Perriman broke the tandem record for yardage. They got a huge ovation and kept the . . .
Well, you get the idea. By the fourth quarter, they had to send a kid to Dunham’s to buy more footballs.
The Jaguars prayed he got lost. Watching Jacksonville try to score was like watching a truck try to drive across a lake. Four interceptions? Eight penalties? A fumble? Three sacks allowed? I don’t want to call this team a sacrificial lamb, but I did hear it go “baaaaa” a few times.
You think the Lions care? Hah. They will take their victories over Jacksonville and Houston to make up for should- have-been victories against Washington and Arizona. True, the Lions are hardly feasting on tough opponents. And true, this is not the best preparation for playoff competition.
You know what? Nobody wants to hear this now.
Instead, let’s return to the happy press room celebration. Herman Moore on the microphone, like Cher, Brett Perriman next to him, like Sonny.
“I’m dreaming of a White Christmasssss,” Moore sang.
“And some monnnney,” sang Perriman.
Oh, those kooky kats. Glover gets an early present, too
While those two croon, let me spread some of the credit around. First of all, a salute to the defense, which played a fine game, forcing turnovers — although with Jacksonville, all you have say is “boo!” — and a particular nod to the secondary, which came up with four interceptions.
As for the offensive records, let’s remember that no receiving marks come on this team if not for Barry Sanders, the world’s greatest decoy, and Scott Mitchell, who is only completing 59 percent of his passes.
Finally, a nod to the least-recognized hero on this team, a guy who spends most of the game with his face near the turf and the quarterback’s hands between his legs. I’m talking the center, Kevin Glover, one of the best in the business. For 11 years he’s been with this team, laboring like a plow horse, wrestling with nose tackles and opening holes for Sanders. When receivers and running backs pull off their helmets for the TV cameras, Kevin Glover is pulling bodies off his chest and rising for another play.
At 32, his goal was to not miss a single down this season. He succeeded until Sunday, when, in the fourth quarter, the coaches said, “Come out, Kevin, you’ve done enough.”
Year after year, when the Pro Bowl starters were announced, Glover was left out. He got used to it. Thursday, when Fontes made the announcements, he reeled off, “Sanders . . . Moore . . . Lomas . . .” The last name he called was “Glover” — and the locker room exploded.
Who knows what will happen with this team? For now, it has crawled from a loser to a winner, from crying to singing. And it’s the role of the media to point out not only bad, but good. And, of course, to admit when they were wrong.
So on their behalf, I admit they were wrong.
OK! OK! We.
Lighten up. It’s the holidays.
Mitch Albom will sign copies of his new book, “Live Albom IV,” 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Barnes & Noble, Rochester Hills; 6:30-7:30 Friday, Media Play, Clinton Township.