x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Detroit Lions Fans celebrate high five

Winning streak is a big step for this team, a big step for this city, says the coach Schwartz.

After a winless season three years ago, the Lions are currently undefeated and keeping pace with the Green Bay Packers. Mike Segar / Reuters
After a winless season three years ago, the Lions are currently undefeated and keeping pace with the Green Bay Packers. Mike Segar / Reuters

Detroit Lions fans counted down the final seconds as if it was New Year's Eve, and they hope this party does not stop any time soon.

The Lions are 5-0 for the first time since 1956 - the year before their last NFL title - and the players were quick to credit the rowdy fans for their role in Monday night's 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears.

"It was electric," Matthew Stafford, the quarterback, said. "Our fans came out and did an unbelievable job. Especially early on, some of those third downs, you couldn't hear yourself think.

"That's just the potential of this city. We know that they can get behind us like that and come out and really wreck a game for another team."

A crowd of 67,861 - the largest ever at Ford Field - created enough noise to rattle the Bears into nine false starts.

The Lions, who became the NFL's first 0-16 team just three years ago during the league's worst stretch of futility since the Second World War, are finally giving their followers something to cheer about.

"Some of our guys were on the team, so they know what the city's been through," Jahvid Best, the running back, said. "They know what this team's been through. I can definitely feel the sense of how hungry the city is."

This was their first regular-season Monday night game in a decade, and they showed emphatically this is no longer the sorry franchise that endured a winless season just three years ago.

Instead, Detroit kept pace with Green Bay, the league's only other undefeated team. The Lions have won nine successive games dating to last season.

"We need to get used to playing games like this," Jim Schwartz, the Detroit coach, said. "We need to get used to playing prime time games. That's a big step for this team, that's a big step for the city."

Schwartz, though, had no plans to celebrate. He was already thinking about the team's next game on Sunday at home against the San Francisco 49ers.

"We'll start on San Fran in about an hour and a half," Schwartz said shortly after midnight.

Stafford passed for two touchdowns and Best scored on an 88-yard run to propel the Lions' offence.

When Chicago pulled within eight points with 4:07 left to play, Best broke loose on a 43-yard run that was capped by a penalty that gave Detroit the ball at the Chicago 22.

He ran for another first down that took time off the clock and set up Jason Hanson's 31-yard kick with 1:56 to go to seal the victory.

Stafford was 19 of 26 for 219 yards with two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Brandon Pettigrew from 18 yards with 9:55 to go in the third quarter.

Best more than doubled his previous career-high with 163 yards rushing on 12 carries.

"We were going against a loud crowd, but that isn't an excuse," Lovie Smith, the Chicago coach, said. "Pre-snap penalties kill you."

* Associated Press


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