| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions get Christmas gifts; is win over Tom Brady in their stocking?
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez hand out gifts for the Detroit Lions, and predict the game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
“We know what’s ahead of us,” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback said during a Wednesday conference call. “We’ve got to go out there and play well. We’re playing against a very explosive team that’s played very well at different times throughout the season.
“They’ve had leads. They haven’t held on to all of them. But they’ve played from ahead, they’ve played from behind. They’ve got a very good quarterback, a great group of skill guys. They have a very tough scheme on defense. So we’re going to have to go out there and play our best 60 minutes.”
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That might be a little hard to swallow for anyone who has followed the Lions this season on their way to a 5-9 record, their elimination from the playoff hunt last week and the firings of the general manager, coach and special teams coordinator.
The Lions also don’t excel at much other than their passing attack, their special teams coverage and an elite punting game behind Pro Bowl Jack Fox.
Brady spoke with reporters before news broke that the Lions would be without interim head coach Darrell Bevell and four defensive assistants for their game. It’s hard to say how Brady’s evaluation of the Lions might have changed if he realized how depleted the team would be in their coaching ranks, with a prime example being the temporary promotion of Evan Rothstein, a research and analysis assistant with no coaching or play-calling experience, to defensive playcaller.
But Brady’s overarching message of staying vigilant against any opponent might have remained the same because it’s a big game for the 9-5 Bucs, who can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a tie.
“This is why we play, to put your team in a place and to give yourself an opportunity to compete for a championship,” Brady said. “And it takes a lot of work to get to that point. It’s very hard to get to that point.
“The competition’s tough week in and week out. You’re playing against great teams, great coaches, every team has strengths and weaknesses. And we put ourselves in a position where if we win we’re in the playoffs.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.