Memorable Lions moments online: Detroit's stars bring plenty of thrills, few playoff wins

John Niyo
The Detroit News

In the absence of live sports, TV networks are filling airtime by replaying classic games from the past, some involving our local teams. But if you need a stronger dose of Detroit-area sports to tide you over until the games begin again, we’ve come up with a list you can find online.

The NFL just made things easier for fans by making a decade’s worth of games available for free on Gamepass via Recent Major League Baseball games are relatively easy to find on YouTube. But same goes for other sports, and we’ve compiled a list of 10 memorable games from each of our four major pro franchise, as well as Michigan and Michigan State football and basketball.

Today, it’s the Lions, who’ve had their share of thrilling moments, even if most of their playoff success was broadcast in black-and-white:

Dec. 27, 1953 — Lions 17, Browns 16: The Lions, led by Bobby Layne and Doak Walker, won the second of three consecutive NFL championship game matchups with the Cleveland Browns, rallying in the fourth quarter to defend their title at Briggs Stadium.

Lions quarterback Tobin Rote runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the 1957 championship game.

Dec. 29, 1957 — Lions 59, Browns 14: Savor this one, because who knows when you’ll ever see another Lions team win a title. With Tobin Rote filling in for an injured Bobby Lane, the underdogs from Detroit routed the Cleveland Browns — and rookie running back Jim Brown — in the 1957 NFL Championship Game at Briggs Stadium.

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Nov. 22, 1962 — Lions 26, Packers 14: This one is remembered as the Thanksgiving Massacre, as the Lions gained revenge for an earlier heartbreak and spoiled the Packers’ perfect season, sacking Bart Starr 11 times at Tiger Stadium.

Nov. 24, 1991 — Lions 34, Vikings 14: A week after Mike Utley suffered a neck injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down, an inspired Lions team routed the Vikings at the Metrodome behind Barry Sanders’ franchise-record 220 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Thumbs up.

Jan. 5, 1992 — Lions 38, Cowboys 6: This was the Lions last playoff win, and it was a memorable one, as a roaring Silverdome crowd watched Detroit demolish the Dallas Cowboys, led by Erik Kramer’s 341 passing yards and capped by one of Barry Sanders’ all-time best touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

Lions running back Barry Sanders broke the single-season 2,000-yard mark in this game in 1997 against the New York Jets.

Dec. 21, 1997 — Lions 13, Jets 10: This was the game was an emotional roller coaster. Reggie Brown nearly died on the field, but the regular-season finale continued after a lengthy delay and Barry Sanders cracked the 2,000-yard mark and the Lions clinched a playoff berth.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a last-second victory over the Browns in 2011, despite injuring his shoulder here in the fourth quarter.

Nov. 22, 2009 — Lions 38, Browns 37: Matthew Stafford made believers of his teammates — and a lot of Lions fans — with this record-setting performance for a rookie, shaking off a separated shoulder on the game-winning drive in dramatic fashion. 

Oct. 10, 2011 — Lions 24, Bears 13: Detroit was on Monday Night Football for the first time in a decade, and Ford Field was ready. So were the undefeated Lions, who used big plays from Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best — remember him? — to snap a six-game losing streak to the Bears

Dec. 24, 2011 — Lions 38, Chargers 10: Christmas came early for Lions fans, as the home team clinched their first playoff berth of the millennium and celebrated by taking a victory lap at Ford Field, high-fiving fans.

Oct. 27, 2013 — Lions 31, Cowboys 30: Matthew Stafford threw for 488 yards and Calvin Johnson set an NFL record for a regulation game with 14 catches for 329 yards in a game that ended with Stafford faking a spike and diving into the end zone for the tying touchdown.

Twitter: @JohnNiyo

Previous installments

Memorable Pistons moments online: From NBA crowns to Palace chaos

Memorable Red Wings moments online: 1950, 2008 Stanley Cup clinchers among 10 extraordinary contests

Memorable Tigers moments online: Series heroes, JV's no-nos, Galarraga's close call