If this football thing doesn't work out, the Detroit Lions make a pretty convincing Grinch.
For the second consecutive week, the Lions spoiled the holidays for a post-season hopeful while snapping another obnoxious, protracted losing streak.
On the heels of last weekend's win over Green Bay, the team used its momentum to survive a 23-20 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, casting doubt on Tampa's playoff prospects while relishing its role as villain.
The Buccaneers fell to 8-6 as the Lions improved to 4-10.
Replacement kicker Dave Rayner drilled a 34-yard field goal with under 10 minutes remaining to win in overtime, his second clutch field goal of the contest after booting a 28-yarder as time expired in regulation.
Other than Rayner's accurate right leg, it was a series of fortunate events and big plays that lifted the team to victory. In a 2010 campaign marred by misfortune, the Lions were due.
After winning the coin toss and opting to take the ball, the Lions leveraged key runs of 26- and 14- yards by Maurice Morris and Jahvid Best, respectively, to place the team within striking distance. On 3rd and eight at the Tampa Bay 37-yard line, Calvin Johnson put the finishing touches on a 10-reception, 152-yard performance with an acrobatic 12-yard grab that put the ball in Rayner's range.
Three plays later, Detroit's streak of road woes and ineptitude was vanquished.
The franchise had not won a road tilt since 2007, a 26-game drought that hung like an albatross on the franchise for three years -- and an unforgiving reminder of the winless 2008 campaign. But paired with last Sunday's win, which ended the team's lengthy divisional losing streak, the Lions also handed coach Jim Schwartz his first winning streak as an NFL head coach.
Earlier in the week, Schwartz bristled at the suggestion of the road conundrum being a major impetus to the team's focus, stating the streak "really has nothing to do with" their goal of winning on the road. Immediately following the win, Schwartz's fist pump just prior to rushing the field in celebration suggested otherwise.
The Lions will hope to continue their luck in the sunshine state, traveling to Miami next week before hosting the Minnesota Vikings in their January 2 season finale.
... The Lions were again led to victory by third-string quarterback Drew Stanton, who completed 23 of his 37 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Making his third consecutive start, Stanton engineered the team's two final scoring drives and, perhaps most importantly, didn't turn the ball over.
... Maurice Morris carried the ball 15 times for 109 yards. It was the highest rushing total by a Lions running back this year.