For most of my life I have treated the Detroit Lions kind of like the stray three-legged kitten with no tail that roams the neighborhood. For the longest time, I quietly cheered for the Lions out of pity, but that time appears to be up.
With Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading the charge, Detroit is no longer the laughing stock of the NFL, and have proven to be a dangerous team. The term “dangerous” has double meaning to it as they can score from anywhere on the field, but they also have become synonymous with dirty hits.
Following their second loss of the season to the Vikings, the Lions were plenty concerned with the level of integrity that the Vikings showed (or perhaps didn’t show) on the field.
Lions cornerback Chris Houston took to the media to express his displeasure with a Vikings lineman on Adrian Peterson’s 61 yard touchdown run that will forever be added to his highlight reel.
“Lineman just fell on my ankle on purpose. I went to cut him, and as he went down, he put both knees on my ankle on purpose. It’s part of the game,” Houston said of the play. “I was on the ground, so I didn’t get to see who it was, but as he pulled, I cut him, he was flying over the top of me, and you could feel him land on my ankle on purpose.”
I’ve watched the highlight of Peterson’s run a number of times now, and I can tell that the lineman Houston is talking about is the pulling guard Brandon Fusco. I don’t see anything other than an excellent block by Fusco who rolls immediately back onto his feet and doesn’t seem to do anything out of the ordinary.
I can’t say for certain that Fusco did nothing wrong, but anyone that can point to the tape and claim to see a dirty play is lying to you.
Fusco isn’t the only Viking that Detroit would like slap on the wrist, however, as a number of hits to wide receiver Calvin Johnson drew some interesting remarks from quarterback Matt Stafford.
“Obviously, you never like to see anybody get hit in the head,” Stafford said. “It’s a part of our game that they’re trying to get rid of. I think it’s a good thing. Calvin’s a tough guy. He stayed in there and made some great plays for us. Obviously, had a great game, but there’s not a whole lot of place for that in this league.”
I was critical yesterday of the penalty that Jasper Brinkley drew on a helmet-to-helmet hit to Megatron, but I certainly didn’t think it was anything with malicious intent, but rather showed a lack of body control. Johnson took a few licks on Sunday, but that is bound to happen when you 12 passes for 207 yards. If anything, Chad Greenway’s hit on Johnson in their previous matchup would be the one to point at as dirty, but nothing in this game seemed like something worthy of such scorn.
Even Johnson admitted that he didn’t think the Vikings were targeting his head on purpose.
To throw some fuel on the fire, an unnamed NFL G.M. has had some very harsh things to say about Detroit in the media this season, and some believed that person was none other than Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.
Spielman, however, denied those rumors this weekend.
“No, no, no – absolutely,” Spielman said on the Lions official website. “If I have something to say, I’ll put my name on it.”
Spielman’s words may or may not be enough to convince some Lions fans, but I for one am kind of excited to see these two franchises building some animosity towards each other.
Future seasons are sure to be more fun because of it.