Can the Lions exorcise the ghosts of playoffs past?

As Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions get set for their wild card matchup today in Dallas, they’re focused on stopping Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant.

That’s their job. Surely Coach Caldwell has them well-prepared.

As you and I get ready for today’s game, we’re focused on watching it. That’s our job. We just sit back and watch.

For many Lions fans today, there’s hope. Hope because, hey, the Lions are in the playoffs. That’s right, Jim. Playoffs.

Sure, Matthew Stafford and the boys went out with a whimper against the Saints last time around. So what?

So they lost again last week at Lambeau. Big deal.

The Lions are back in the playoffs.

For disillusioned Lions fans, of course, this is no cause for celebration. We’ve seen this movie before. We know how it ends (usually about midway through the third quarter). Lions Fan

We can’t help but suffer the flashbacks. Mark Rypien. Sterling Sharpe. Scott Mitchell.

They’re seared into our psyche.

Looking back on their woeful playoff record over the last half century, it hasn’t really mattered who they face in the postseason. The result is always the same.

Everyone knows the Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1992, when Erik Kramer and Willie Green (The Touchdown MachineTM) led the Lions to victory over Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys at the Silverdome.

But who among us remembers the last time the Lions won a playoff game on the road? For that, we’d have to take the wayback machine all the way to 1957 San Francisco, where Y.A. Tittle and the 49ers nearly derailed the Lions en route to their last NFL championship.

The Lions prevailed that day on the legs of Tom “The Bomb” Tracy, but road playoff games have been a nightmare ever since.

In the years since they knocked out the Niners, the Lions have traveled to Washington, Philadelphia, Green Bay, back to San Francisco, and down to Tampa Bay, and every time they’ve come home with their tails between their legs.

The last time the Lions went to Dallas for a playoff game, it did not go well.

(Of course, home field advantage is no guarantee either.)

But maybe this time it’s different. Maybe this team’s got what it takes.

To slay the Cowboys and the ghosts of playoffs past, the Lions need to do more than just play error-free football today.

MLive says they’ve got to score more than 20 points.

I say better make it 30. Just to be safe.

40 sounds good. Hell, better make it 50.

For the Lions to win today in Dallas, everyone has to contribute. Offense, defense, referees.

Sure they’re the underdogs again, but who knows … maybe with Dominic Raiola and Ndamukong Suh back in uniform, they just might stand a chance.

Best-case scenario? Who knows? We can’t rule anything out (it’s not even halftime yet).

Maybe if Stafford can conjure up the spirit of Kramer, if Prater can conjure up the spirit of Eddie, if all of them can conjure up the spirit of Detroit

And if Lady Luck and the Big Buck smile upon them, maybe, just maybe the Lions can pull this off.

A little prayer couldn’t hurt either.

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About Dave Mesrey

Dave Mesrey is a veteran journalist who’s worked for the Metro Times, Hour Detroit, and ESPN’s Grantland.com. The editor of Willie Horton’s autobiography, The People’s Champion, Mesrey was also an associate producer of the 2013 Tiger Stadium documentary Stealing Home.