GREEN BAY—Lions Coach Jim Schwartz has been pretty good at ending streaks, such as the 17 consecutive losses he inherited when he became the team’s coach in 2009. Three games into the job, the Lions had a win.
Two weeks ago, the Lions went to Washington, where never in the long history of the Lions franchise had the team won a game. A game!
“We were asked a million questions about it and everything else. I don’t know how really fair that is to whoever, Matt Stafford or Reggie Bush, Ndamukong Suh or Louis Delmas, or anyone that hasn’t been a part of that,” Schwartz said during a conference call with Packers media on Wednesday.
The Lions won that game in Washington, which allows them to bring a 3-1 record and a share of the NFC North lead to Green Bay, where the Lions are on a streak of 22 consecutive losses in Wisconsin.
“I think just about everybody on our team other than our rookies have been a part of losing games at Lambeau. They know the reasons we’ve lost to them, they know how close we’ve been, how we’ve been a play away, and I think that stuff rings a lot truer and is a lot more relevant than some other streaks. We’ve broken a lot of streaks here,” Schwartz said.
The consecutive losses streak to the Packers is the big one for the Lions. If the Packers are the team to beat in the NFC North, then the road to the division title would seem to travel through Green Bay.
“Close doesn’t count,” Schwartz said. “We’re not trying to play close games, even though we have. We got to come up with that other play, avoid that one other turnover. We were up 14-3 and moving, and the ball slips out of the quarterback’s hands and all of a sudden there’s a different dimension to the game last year. This year we’re 2-0 in the division; this would give us a chance to go 3-0.”
Big game? It can’t be overstated. At 1-2, the Packers are running out of wiggle room. At 3-1, the Lions can become the team to beat in the NFC North with a win at Lambeau Field.
“Any NFL team, their No. 1 goal is to win your division, easiest way to the playoffs and all that stuff. So this gives us an opportunity to get another win, get a division win, and also put a loss on one of our division opponents,” Schwartz said.
The Lions are largely the same team that has been threatening to wrest control of the division from the Packers. The Lions have arguably the best big-play receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson, and the most overpowering defensive tackle combination, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the latter having terrorized the Packers in two games last season with a combined three sacks, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
What’s old about the Lions is still good and what’s new, running back Reggie Bush, has made them better.
“He complements what we want to do offensively; he really fit the role. We’ve been lacking that since we lost Jahvid Best. Getting Reggie in that role was a big complement for our other pieces on offense,” Schwartz said.
So the Lions come to Green Bay this week with an age-old streak they want to end, a chance to take sole possession of first place in the NFC North (the Bears host the undefeated Saints) and put a lot of pressure on the Packers early in the season.
“It’s a race to see who can correct their mistakes the fastest, who can plug the next guy in the fastest, who can find their personality the fastest. The teams that are able to do that are the teams that go,” Schwartz said.
Sunday’s game will reveal much about the NFC North’s personality this season. Additional coverage - Oct. 2