Lions' Caldwell elated to end ugly streak

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Jim Caldwell tried to downplay what happened after the Lions' monumental win in Green Bay Sunday.

The several hours between the game and his news conference Monday at 12:30 p.m. weren't much different than any other game, he said.

But, after some prodding, Caldwell started to discuss the emotions in the Lions locker room, and it became clear the franchise's first win at Lambeau Field since 1991 was more than just another game.

"We talked about the sounds in the locker room after a victory like that," Caldwell said. "It's unlike anything that you'll ever hear, and that's one of the things I told them that draws guys back to coaching because you can't find it anywhere else.

"It's an elation, it's a joy (and) it's a sense of accomplishment that's very difficult to match in any other forms of life."

And when a losing streak reaches 24 games across 23 seasons, the pain and suffering extends beyond the players and coaches who have come and gone. Bill Keenist, the team's senior vice president of communications, has been with the Lions since 1985, and because he was standing next to Caldwell, FOX's camera caught him leaping in ecstasy when Green Bay's Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to seal Detroit's win.

Keenist even appeared to push Caldwell as they both ran toward the middle of the field, and after joking about being sore from the hit, Caldwell said, "I've been hit harder."

Katzenstein: Lions' future backfield remains murky

In the days leading up to Sunday's game, the Lions downplayed the streak publicly, but Caldwell said Sunday that was related to the idea that the current team doesn't carry the weight of those losses.

Still, he understood the importance of the win for the franchise and the fan base.

"I understood the magnitude of it," Caldwell said, "because of the fact that the organization, the fans and all of those that have been involved with the organization for this length of time without having a victory up there.

"To get one was quite a feat."

The surprising win, both in Lambeau Field and against a Packers team that was 6-2, won't change the approach for the Lions (2-7) this week. Even immediately after the game, players were talking about turning their attention to the Oakland Raiders, who visit Ford Field Sunday.

Caldwell said he was proud of the players for hanging together through the recent adversity, including the firing of three assistant coaches and two executives this season.

Defensive end Darryl Tapp said Sunday the players took the failings in the first half of the season personally and did some "self-evaluation" during the bye week. The only difference Caldwell noticed from the week off was that players were rested and had high energy for practices and the game.

If there's anything the Lions can take away from Sunday's game, it will be mostly mental, Caldwell said. Maybe the players will play harder with hopes of hearing the same sounds in the locker room.

"It's unmatched, and I was explaining to them that that sound is one that you really try to capture," he said.

Caldwell explained that what he heard at Lambeau Field Sunday was similar to last year's win over the Falcons in London, when the Lions overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit, and a couple games from 2012 during the Ravens' Super Bowl run when he and a couple Lions players were with Baltimore.

"Those are unusual sort of situations that occur, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't take anything supernatural to get it done," he said.

"It's just good, solid play is kind of how we related it."

And as important as the win and the emotions that followed were for the players, it was a great experience for the coaches, too.

"That's why we coach," Caldwell said. "We all have a love to compete and the competitive part of it, and there's nothing else like winning. There's no question about that.

"So, we enjoy that part of it, but it's the same routine for us in terms of what we do and go through."