57 + 57 Football – Detroit Lions Regular Season Week 8

Detroit Lions LogoThe art of deception, and solid defensive play backed up by key performances by the offense, helped the Lions narrowly beat the Saints on Sunday, 24-23. The deception – by defensive secondary partners James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin – involved a sudden switch in roles, baffling Saints quarterback Drew Brees into a mis-judged pass intercepted by Quin. The turnover sparked a recovery. Two touchdowns were quickly on the scoreboard and the Lions roared into the locker room with the win. Golden Tate, with a career-high 10 catches for 154 yards, chalked up 73 of those yards for the first recovery touchdown. A Matthew Stafford to Corey Fuller pass deep in the end zone put the Lions over the top with only 1:54 left in the game. In the field goal department, newly-signed kicker Matt Prater put his sole attempt of 21 yards through the endposts. So far, so good.

“These games build character in your team,” Quin quipped. “When you’re in games like this, worrying about a No. 1 defense or stats or all that stuff, none of that matters, you’re just trying to win the game. Great offenses come through and make plays like they did, and great defenses come through and make big plays like we did and that’s how you get the win.”

We’re 5-2,  still tied with the pesky Packers for the NFC North, and headed on Sunday to Atlanta, home of the free, the Braves, and the 2-5 Falcons. The Falcons were thoroughly trashed by the Baltimore Colts Ravens last weekend. We’ll just sweep up after.

On October 20, 1957 another come-from-behind win played out in Detroit. The Baltimore Colts came to town, with their “Golden Arm” (quarterback Johnny Unitas), for a rematch following the Lions’ loss in Baltimore three weeks earlier. The Arm quickly went to work: 1st quarter 15 yard TD pass to Jim Mutscheller; 2nd quarter 72 yard TD pass to Lenny Moore, 66 yard pass to Jim Mutscheller; and 3rd quarter 4 yard pass to Lenny Moore. Then the Lions woke up. In the fourth quarter, Detroit quarterback Bobby Layne displayed his “arm and a foot”: a 26 yard TD pass to Howard Cassady, a hand-off to John Henry Johnson for a 1 yard TD run, and another 29 yard TD pass to Cassady (Layne also kicked all three points after). Final score: Detroit 31, Baltimore 27.

Fullback John Henry Johnson. Photo: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Fullback John Henry Johnson. Photo: Pro Football Hall of Fame

John Henry Johnson, a 6′ 2″ fullback out of Arizona State, was a new face on the Lions team in 1957. His two previous years in the NFL were with the San Francisco 49ers as part of their “Million Dollar Backfield,” which included future Pro Hall-of-Famers Johnson, Hugh McElhenny, Y.A. Tittle, and Joe Perry. During the 1957 season, John Henry was the Lions leading rusher with 621 yards. On retirement in 1966 he ranked fourth in rushing yards behind only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, and Joe Perry. In addition to his career 6803 rushing yards, he had 186 pass receptions for 1478 yards, scoring 330 points on 55 career touchdowns.

Up next for the 1957 Lions – a trip to sunny Los Angeles and another opportunity to shut down Norm Van Brocklin and his Ram crew. Is there a trip to two-year-old Disneyland in the cards?

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