By: Will Burchfield
Led by their even-keeled coach, the Lions have insisted that Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings is no bigger than any other.
On Tuesday, veteran safety Glover Quin suggested otherwise.
"This is my eighth year now. Very rarely do you get a game this late in the season on Thanksgiving, a game like this," he said. "You can get a division game, but it may not be the top two teams in the division. It can be against another good team, but it may not be a division game."
This year's Thanksgiving clash checks both those boxes. Detroit and Minnesota enter play tied atop the NFC North at 6-4. The winner will assume the driver's seat in the race for the division title. It's no stretch to say this is the Lions' biggest Thanksgiving game ever.
The team has played on the fourth Thursday of November in every year since 1945.
"It's pretty cool," Quin said. "It's a unique experience to play on Thanksgiving anyway. But for this game, to be playing against Minnesota, a division game, division games are always tough...and the stakes in this game are pretty high. We all understand that. Pretty sure they understand it as well, so it'll be fun."
Asked if there's a different feel surrounding Thursday's game, Quin left little doubt.
"I think that's obvious," he said. "I mean, if you're playing a random opponent at 1:00 on a Sunday in Week 12, it's another game that you approach as a game.
"But as players, you always feel it. If you play in a Monday night game you understand, 'Hey, this is a nationally-televised game.' If you're playing a division game you understand, like, 'Hey, this is a division game.' If you're playing in a division game, the top two teams, even if it's not a nationally-televised game, you understand, 'Hey, this is a big game.'
"It just so happens for us, it happens to be all of those things: division game, the top two teams, nationally-televised, Thursday, Thanksgiving. All those things combine to just tell you, like, 'Hey, this is a big game.'"
Quin said moments like these touch the core of his ten-year-old self. They speak to the kid who was just falling in love with football.
Part of me is like, 'Hey man, this is what you play the game for, for games like this.' I'm pretty sure it'll be a great environment, great atmosphere. But then you have the other side that's, 'Hey, regardless of what's going on - holidays, whatever - you gotta be professional, be in your routine, prepare, and everything else will take care of itself."
Quin feels it's important to appreciate the magnitude of the occasion. In every way imaginable, Thursday's game is a big one.
"And I think if you don't see it that way then maybe you're shortchanging yourself," said. "I don't want to make it more than what it really is, and obviously the preparation for this game is key, body wise and mentally. But also mentally preparing yourself for a tough game. This is a big game and I feel like we need to prepare and approach it as such."
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