Fighting for their playoff lives, the Detroit Lions' offense went dormant against the New York Jets for 32 minutes, allowing an equally desperate Gang Green to usurp a 17-13 lead. Needing a touchdown to keep impossible dreams alive, Jared Goff assumed control of the ball with 4:37 to play and appeared to have a drive-starting big play to second-year tight end Brock Wright. The Notre Dame product, however, failed to reel in a throw slightly behind him for what would have been only his 26th career reception. Six plays later, coming out of the two-minute warning and facing fourth-and-inches from mid-field, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson dialed up some play-action misdirection designed to go to the kid who had just dropped the football. Fifty-one euphoric yards later and the Lions had what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown and a .500 record.
Running back Justin Jackson sprinted into the celebratory end zone and on-field microphones caught the poignant moment when he told Wright that his teammates, as well as the coaching staff, believe in Wright.
Belief is not a word Lions fans can understand. We've never had it before. It's never been earned. Six wins in seven games, including clawing one out on the road against a physical team while playing subpar football, may be changing that. And it's not just belief in the next three weeks and the possibility of more after that. It's the belief that something has changed. That Dan Campbell, a flawed in-game manager to be sure, has flipped that magical switch everyone in the Motor City has been trying to find like a curious Tim Taylor rooting around in the electrical closet during a Thanksgiving game.
During the first on-field interview of his career, Wright spoke about the awesome culture in Detroit. Let me say that again. The awesome culture in Detroit. Against long odds, it does not seem like a ridiculous statement.
Three games remain. Detroit will need to win them all and get a little help or win two of them and get more help to become only the second team to overcome a 1-6 start to make the playoffs. But dammit, it's not just that we're starting to believe or we want to believe. It's that it doesn't feel human not to believe.
The newness of it all — the newness of Wright, who simply doesn't know enough to carry the Same Old Lions baggage — feels different. Like a dirty slate that's been scrubbed with the elbow grease of too many generations is beginning to feel clean again. That a fresh narrative can be written upon it.
Dare I say it? Dare I tempt the Gods?
We believe in them.