1991 was the last time the Detroit Lions made it to the NFC championship game. Gas prices were listed at $1.12, Michael Jordan had just captured his first NBA championship, and Michael Jackson’s single "Black and White" sat atop the "Billboard Hot 100" chart for seven weeks.
Fast forward to 33 years later and the Lions are back in that same exact spot — one win away from the Super Bowl.
During that ‘91 season the Lions capped off a 12-4 year which set a franchise record while locking up the division and a postseason appearance, leading to a conference championship.
Since then it’s been nothing but struggles, hardships, and suffering. Eight playoff losses, 19 losing seasons, and 11 different head coaches.
Even having to watch your former beloved franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, who dedicated his blood, sweat, and tears to the grind, divorce the relationship and find immediate success by winning a Super Bowl in his new home with the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s hard to believe, but the Lions are achieving the impossible in Detroit and the Honolulu Blue juice has people buzzing harder than ever.
As the Lions outlasted a back-and-forth shootout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week in the NFC divisional round 31-23, the roar was louder than ever inside Ford Field.
In both of Detroit’s playoff games this season, the fans that fulfill the den have broken the decibel record inside Ford Field. In the wildcard round against the Rams, fans hit 133.6 decibels only to one-up themselves a week later as they hit 134.3 decibels after defeating the Buccaneers.
While it’s nice, decibel records aren't the focus for this team or even the fans. It’s building something that the fans can be proud of. It’s getting away from being those same old Lions.
Head coach Dan Campbell has certainly earned the respect of his players, staff, and the community. A guy who discussed biting off kneecaps in his introductory press conference three years ago, also made a promise to take on the identity of this city.
Tough, hard-nosed football. The blue-collar work ethic. The ‘AllGrit’ mentality. An order has been restored to the distressed, bereaved fans, and it’s only the beginning in the D.
Building something up from the ground isn’t always a fast process and there were rocky beginnings, but since Nov. 6, 2022, Campbell has led the Lions to a 22-7 overall record.
Now the pack faces their toughest test yet as they travel to San Francisco, Calif., for a conference championship date with the No. 1 seeded 49ers.
A win on Sunday would mark the first playoff win for the Lions on the road since 1957, which so happens to be the year Detroit defeated the 49ers to go on to win the NFL title.
It of course would also mean that the Lions would be going to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. A statement that many have believed wouldn't be valid in their lifetime.
Suffering through a 0-16 season in 2008. Living past the controversial game in Dallas in 2015. Keeping faith even after Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson said their goodbyes. A fanbase that has waited so long for this dream to come to fruition.
“We got two [wins] to go, with a bye in the middle,” Campbell echoed in the locker room after the divisional round win.
That is how close the impossible has become. The new Lions have arrived, a new ‘America’s Team.'