COMMENTARY | Remember when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ripped off a 78-yard touchdown run on the first play of the season against the Detroit Lions?
I know what the first thought in my head was: Really, are these the same old Lions?
The Lions would end up winning that game, and two of the next three to go to 3-1 on the season, tied with the Chicago Bears -- who they beat in Week 4 -- for first place in the NFC North.
There was a lot of hype and hope for this team but, in recent years, that's been pretty common. When you have a wide receiver like Calvin Johnson, a quarterback like Matthew Stafford and a defensive line that includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, it's easy to get caught up in the hype.
The Lions started to own up to that hype in 2011 when they had a 10-6 season and their first playoff appearance since 1999. There was a lot of hope for a repeat performance in 2012, but they fell short, way short.
The Lions went 4-12 and had many fans wondering how a team with so much talent could only win four games.
We're only a quarter of the way through the 2013 season, but it's clear this team isn't the same old Detroit Lions.
The same old Detroit Lions would have fallen apart after that 78-yard touchdown run by Peterson. Instead, they chipped away at the lead until overcoming the deficit in the third quarter and holding on to a 34-24 lead.
Against the Washington Redskins in Week 3, DeAngelo Hall had a pick six early in the first quarter to give the Redskins a 7-0 lead. Did the Lions panic? No. They answered with two touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead and would hold on for the 27-20 win.
Against the Bears on Sunday, September 29, they faced a 10-9 deficit and had to settle for three field goals despite being within 23 yards of a touchdown on each field goal.
Did the offense abandon the game plan and start forcing the play to get some points? No. Instead, they outscored the Bears 21-0 after the last field goal to take a 30-10 lead nearing the end of the first half.
Don't get me wrong. This team is far from perfect. The defense -- most notably the secondary -- isn't as consistent as the Lions would like, and the offense isn't the same without Reggie Bush or Calvin Johnson in the lineup.
Against the Bears on Sunday, the Lions held a 30-13 lead at halftime, and ended up winning 40-32. They still have some work to do as far as closing out games and not giving their opponents opportunities to take the lead.
But this team also is doing a lot of things right and learning from their mistakes.
They finally have a solid running back in Bush, Matthew Stafford is making smart decisions and throwing the ball into tight windows that only a few quarterbacks in the league are capable of doing and the defensive line is making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks, which is leading to turnovers and more opportunities on offense.
When the Lions are running on all cylinders, it's a very dangerous team that is capable of playing with any other team in the league.
What also is working in the Lions' favor is the remaining teams on their schedule are a combined 15-31. The same old Lions would find ways to lose against those teams instead of taking advantage of a favorable schedule.
I have a feeling those same old Lions won't be showing up for the rest of the season.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Lions for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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