Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Great Lakes' Keeps Lions Afloat Detroit Aims Potent Offense at Eagles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Great Lakes' Keeps Lions Afloat Detroit Aims Potent Offense at Eagles

Article excerpt

The hottest thing going in the National Football League uses something called the "Great Lakes" offense, has a star receiver named Herman, and a coach who was told to make the playoffs or else.

Dutiful employee that he is, coach Wayne Fontes made the playoffs. After a 3-6 start, his Detroit Lions won their final seven games of the regular season - the longest current winning streak in the league.

To make it eight in a row, they must defeat the Philadelphia Eagles at 3 p.m. today (St. Louis time) in a National Football Conference wild-card game at Veterans Stadium.

Do or die? No big deal for Detroit. It's become a way of life.

"We're not going to approach this any different than we have any other game," quarterback Scott Mitchell said. "We've been facing this type of situation for the better part of our season."

Owner William Clay Ford issued his "win or get fired" ultimatum to the perpetually embattled Fontes after a 34-22 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 5.

"If we lose a couple more, then the fat lady, as they say, will start to clear her throat," Fontes said at the time.

If anyone could dig himself out of that hole, it was Fontes - truly the Lion in Winter. Since 1988, Fontes is 22-10 in December and January. The Lions steamroll teams late in the season. They won their last four games by a combined 132-34.

They have the NFL's No. 1-ranked attack, which Fontes has dubbed the Great Lakes offense. (Take that, West Coast!)

They have the first NFL team with a 4,000-yard passer (Mitchell), a 1,500-yard receiver (Herman Moore) and a 1,500-yard rusher (Barry Sanders). And that's excluding wide receiver Brett Perriman, who had 108 catches for 1,488 yards and nine TDs.

"Their offensive unit is probably the best in football at this point," Philadelphia coach Ray Rhodes said. "I don't think anybody's better as far as having that much talent on the field at one time. It's a great challenge for our football team."

The challenge is designing a defensive plan to stop the Lions (10-6). …

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