Lions can’t be happy with ‘just being there’ against the Niners

The Detroit Lions are in the NFC title game. No, it’s not a dream, it is reality and they’ve got folks believing. Detroit can turn the page, beginning a new chapter in their history. Appearing in their first Super Bowl and beating one of the NFL’s most successful franchises to advance would be an extra feather in the Lions’ cap.

Historically, Detroit has been one of those organizations that have had the word “cursed” attached to them. Even when drafting all-time great players such as Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, or even Matthew Stafford, Detroit usually found a way to bungle things. The Lions have played in one championship game during the Super Bowl era and that was early in Sanders’ career.

Detroit was victorious in four NFL Championship games, but since the NFL/AFL merged and began the Super Bowl, the Lions have been an afterthought. It was only a couple of years ago that this was still a three-win team in head coach Dan Campbell’s first season. This is an organization that has had a season where they didn’t win a game. Winning in the NFL isn’t easy, but even the worst teams have lucked into a win or two.

Now the Lions are at the other end of the spectrum and among the final four left standing with a chance to appear in the franchise’s first Super Bowl. From young to old, no matter the age, Lions fans remember all the bad times because there haven’t been a lot of good. That’s not meant as a slight, it’s the truth. The Carolina Panthers, who’ve been around only since 1995, have played in more NFC title games (three) than the Lions, and two Super Bowls.

A truly formidable foe

However, it won’t be easy traveling to the Bay Area to face San Francisco. While all the positive history is on the 49ers’ side, they’ve had trouble getting over the hump and winning Super Bowl No. 6. Since 2011, the Niners have played on six championship Sundays and advanced to two Super Bowls, losing both. So, they’ve been highly successful, but haven’t experienced the ultimate success of winning a Lombardi trophy since the 1990s.

For the Lions, it’s been about firsts. When you’re an organization that hasn’t had much success, just about everything is a first. The Lions held their first home playoff game in decades on Super Wild Card Weekend, and the first ever (for the team) at Ford Field.

When these opportunities come about, you’ve got to take advantage of them. Many teams and players have had magical seasons and assumed they’d always make it back. Look at the Eagles making the Super Bowl last year and falling apart this season and getting bounced in the wild-card round. Nothing is guaranteed, so you’ve got to seize the moment.

Hall of Famer Dan Marino led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in his second season as a pro. Everyone just assumed because of his talent that they’d be back after getting waxed by the Niners. Marino and the Dolphins advanced to a couple more AFC title games, but never appeared in another Super Bowl. This momentum can’t be taken for granted no matter how talented the team.

Detroit is the clear underdog against the 49ers, but none of that matters once they hit the field. It’s cliché, but you’ve got to leave it all on the field. As much as this squad has improved under Campbell, there’s no guarantee they’ll be in the final four again next season. Everyone was counting on a rematch between SF and Philly not too long ago. The Eagles and all their fans will be watching from home on Sunday, like the rest of us. The Lions’ destiny is in front of them now and it’s time for them to make history.

#Lions #happy #Niners

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