So many teams of Jim Caldwell’s have done that in the past years, so I don’t think this is going to be anything different.
“I think Jim does a great job of letting those guys know, ‘ Hey, it’s the fourth quarter. Let’s get going.’
“Anything can happen now and it’s true.”
Freeney experienced it firsthand under Caldwell with the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts in 2010. After tumbling down the standings following a three-game skid, the Colts entered Week 14 with a 6-6 record and needed to win out to have any chance at sniffing the playoffs.
And they did, rattling off four straight victories — two at home and two on the road — to grab an AFC wild-card spot.
“You really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Freeney said. “It’s just about playing your best ball in December.
“I mean, I think the big thing is that you learn from that experience is that anything is possible.
“It’s just people like to write you off when you’re having an average year, but you win four straight and all of a sudden you find yourself in a different situation.”
Freeney said the difference down the stretch was the Colts started to play more consistent in all phases, adding some players just seem to play better when their backs are against the wall and there are no other options left.
It’s an example of resiliency Caldwell can point to, but doesn’t need to go that far back to draw from. During his first season with the Lions in 2014, the team faced a similar scenario after back-to-back losses to the
right Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots dropped them to 7-4 with five games left.
The Lions bounced back and responded by winning four straight to lock down an NFC wild-card bid.
“We got better in all the areas where we should get better in right down the stretch at a good time to give us a chance,” Caldwell said. “So, we ran the ball better. We threw the ball better. We didn’t have turnovers. We created them on defense. All the things that you need to get done. So, we did all those things better.
“But the big thing is the way you get it done is that you really narrow your focus. I mean that’s the key. I mean anything other than that, you’re going to have problems, so you got to narrow your focus and really work on the things you need to get better at. This is the time of year we have to be clicking on all cylinders.”
The Lions, though, have been sputtering and misfiring as of late.
The offensive line has had trouble protecting a banged-up Matthew Stafford and could be down two starters with right tackle Rick Wagner and guard T.J. Lang unable to practice yet this week, with Stafford’s status still up in the air.
The run game continues to spin its wheel and has never seemingly got on track, while the defensive line isn’t generating much — if any — pressure.
Add it all up and the Lions have a 10 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.
But despite the long odds, the fact remains there’s still a glim-
Dwight Freeney said coach Jim Caldwell “does a great job of letting those guys know, ‘Hey, it’s the fourth quarter. Let’s get going.’”