Lions finally executing away from home

Coach Steve Mariucci thinks he knows the secret behind the Lions' new road success: angel hair pasta.

Updated: October 27, 2004, 12:02 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Toward the end of last year, with the franchise in the throes of what became a league-record road losing streak of 24 games, a Detroit Lions scout joked that perhaps only the ancient Israelites had experienced worse fortune away from home.

The Hebrews, whom the Bible suggests wandered the desert for 40 years, nearly starved before finding manna.

For the Lions, suddenly riding the crest of a three-game winning streak on the road, the new-found sustenance didn't exactly fall from heaven. There is, though, something sort of angelic about it.

The secret ingredient in the Lions' road success? Angel hair pasta.

You know the old (commercial) about the American Express card and don't leave home without it? Well, we don't leave home now without a pretty good (dose) of confidence. For whatever reason, we just seem to be focusing a lot better on the road, getting rid of all the distractions.
DE James Hall

In a season when coach Steve Mariucci has made sure the Lions maintain the same travel routine and keep everything as close to schedule as possible, adding the angel hair pasta to the team's typically carb-heavy menu is the lone alteration. So pass the parmesan cheese and meatballs, and ladle on the marinara sauce generously, because pasta power has apparently become the Lions' rage.

Well, maybe.

"It's good, but I'd like to think we're just playing better, and getting more confident on the road," said cornerback Dré Bly following last Sunday's victory at Giants Stadium. "People are always looking for magical answers, but this really isn't a complicated game. You make plays, you win, and we're making plays on the road now that we didn't make in the past. The more we do it, the more we believe we're going to do it, you know?"

The Lions head into their matchup with the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Sunday with plenty of positive reinforcement. They opened with a win at Chicago, snapping the grotesque 24-game stretch of futility. Four weeks later, they defeated Atlanta, which was 4-0 at the time, for their second road victory. Then the Lions improved to 3-0 away from home last week by topping a Giants team that came into the game having won four in a row.

Suddenly the road-weary Lions have become road warriors. Once toothless away from home, Mariucci's team is showing some fangs.

The Lions are unlikely to challenge the NFL record for consecutive road victories, a string of 18 established by the San Francisco 49ers 1988-90, but no longer do Detroit players view road trips harboring the dread with which they approached them in the past. The team that expected the worst anytime it left home over the last three seasons, certainly expects to play well on the road now.

"You know the old (commercial) about the American Express card and don't leave home without it?" said defensive end James Hall. "Well, we don't leave home now without a pretty good (dose) of confidence. For whatever reason, we just seem to be focusing a lot better on the road, getting rid of all the distractions. We treat it like a business trip now. And we're definitely taking care of business."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

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