DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions are heading back to the postseason. Now they can focus on the race for the NFC North title.
The Lions clinched their second playoff berth in the last 14 seasons when Philadelphia lost to Washington on Saturday. Detroit plays at Chicago on Sunday.
The Redskins’ win led to a celebratory message on Detroit receiver Golden Tate’s Twitter account: “So thankful our hard work is paying off!Excited to be in the post season but that’s not good enough!We must handle business tmrw! #OnePride”
The Lions (10-4) are tied atop their division with Green Bay, and the Packers host Detroit in the final game of the regular season.
Detroit’s most recent playoff appearance came during the 2011 season, when the Lions were a wild card and lost to New Orleans 45-28 in the postseason. Detroit has not hosted a playoff game since a loss to Green Bay on Jan. 8, 1994.
The Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991, and that is their only postseason win since 1957, when they won the NFL title.
Detroit lost six of its last seven games last season, blowing an excellent chance to make the playoffs under coach Jim Schwartz. The Lions then fired Schwartz and replaced him with Jim Caldwell, and they made the postseason this year on the strength of a tough defense that stifles the run.
Caldwell said Friday he would not rest his top players against Chicago even if Philadelphia won, and he said he wasn’t even planning to watch the Eagles on Saturday.
“We have more important things going on for us at that particular point in time and that’s to win,” Caldwell said Friday.