by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Zip a dee doo dah, zip a dee ay.

My, my, my, what a wonderful day.

Burn those gee-tars. Torch those pickup trucks. Melt those Willie Nelson albums into a ball of hot wax, and mold it into a Lion.

A roaring Lion.

Detroit 26, Dallas 21.


Hot damn.

Sounds so good, I’m gonna say it again.

Detroit 26, Dallas 21.

Like gunning down Billy The Kid. Like knocking out Muhammad Ali. One punch. Like taking on the IRS and finding out they made the mistake.

And so what if most of the points came off mistakes by the Cowboys — who had more of them Sunday than Boy George has hairstyles?

And so what if the Cowboys led in nearly every statistical category? “The Lions put more points on the scoreboard,” said a glum Tony Dorsett. Right.

The Lions win, the Cowboys lose. You heard it: 26-21. Surely it snowed in Texas this morning. Surely the Detroit River ran backwards. Surely the sun rose in the West, and yes, I think, wait a minute, look — it’s silver and blue.

If some bearded guy walks into my office today with Ten Commandments under his arm, I’m going to act completely normal.

From cocky to crumbling

Of course, this was more than the Lions’ second victory in two attempts. This was more than the upset of the day, the week, maybe the month.

For in the world of professional sports, there are few things as sweet as defeating the Dallas Cowboys when you are a decided underdog. They are the Yankees, the Celtics, Martina Navratilova and Hulk Hogan all rolled into one. All things invincible and intimidating.

And there they were on Sunday, crumbling like oyster crackers. Fumbling away. Throwing passes into the arms of Lions defenders. Going nowhere. Watching Detroit pile points upon points, until at one stage the Lions led 26-0.

It was like witnessing an IBM computer falling apart, microchip by microchip. And for everyone who’s ever felt intimidated by cool, rational winners, the ones who always clean their desks and never get to work late, well, this was as sweet as it comes.

You could feel it in the confines of the Silverdome every time the Lions converted another Dallas mistake into a score. Charged up? It felt as if the seats were wired with 250 volts.

The fans smelled something. Could be. Might be.

And in the second quarter, it was Will Be.

For there was America’s Team, in all its pomposity, sitting on a fourth down, one yard from the Lions’ goal line. Against a more highly reputed opponent, trailing 10-0, they would have done the obvious. Step back and kick a field goal. Make sure they get some points out of the drive.

But noooooooo. Tom Landry and the rest of his posse must’ve figured, “Hey, this is only Detroit we’re playing here.” So they went for the touchdown instead, as if it was as sure a thing as Willie singing with Waylon.

Crunnnnch! The Lions stopped them. Piled on. Built a wall. Choked it dead. Get outta here, Cowboy.

And the place came unglued.

Almost like Christmas

The Lions played on fire from that point on. And before someone yells that, hey, the Cowboys came back from 26-0 to lose by only five points, let’s remember that a lot of young teams with new coaches would have come out in the second half leading Dallas by 13 and tripped all over themselves.

Detroit stayed poised. The Lions played the same way they had in the first half. And fortunately, so did Dallas. Danny White fumbled. The Lions turned it into a touchdown. White threw an underhand interception. Another Lions touchdown. That’s what you do when the other team messes up. Capitalize.

The Lions have seen it happen in reverse enough times.

Sure, they must have felt as though it was Christmas out there. Until the fourth quarter, at least, when Dallas regrouped. And maybe the Lions were getting a little dizzy from the thrill of it all.

And yes, when Landry’s team came back to make it 26-14 with 6:41 left, so many fans sucked in their breath I think the Silverdome roof was lowered by three feet.

But the Lions did not break. The last touchdown they gave up was with 20 seconds left, and by then it was over.

Goliath stumbled. David was ready.

As a well-known coach once said, “We don’t care how the grapes were crushed as long as the wine turns out fine.”

Very fine indeed.

Douse the fire. Call in the dogs. Take that ten- gallon hat and toss it off the Belle Isle bridge.

Detroit 26, Dallas 21.

Drink up, Lions fans; 2-0 tastes mighty sweet.


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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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