MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: Focus shifts to Monday Night Football

Posted Aug 29, 2014

As fast as they could shower and dress to leave the stadium after their final preseason games Thursday night, the Lions and Giants were thinking of each other.

As fast as they could shower and dress to leave the stadium after their final preseason games Thursday night, the Lions and Giants were thinking of each other.

They were about 385 miles apart, but their thoughts intersected at Ford Field in Detroit, where they open the season against each other on Sept. 8.

“I feel good – excited for next week to get ready for Detroit,” quarterback Eli Manning said after the Giants’ 16-13 victory over the Patriots at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“There are things we have to get better at, but that’s why we’ve got another week to work on a few things, but also to get into (preparing for) Detroit and go play a real game and see what we can do.”

For the Lions, it’s an ideal setting for an opener – with factors that give it more meaning than usual for the kickoff to a season.

It’s the first game this season on ESPN’s Monday Night TV schedule, and against an opponent that knocked the Lions out of the playoffs with a 23-20 overtime victory in Game 15 last season. And Ford Field fans have shown they raise the decibel count to a level that creates a home-field advantage.
Rashean MathisRashean Mathis (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)


Cornerback Rashean Mathis was one of 13 Lions – 11 of them starters – who were held out of the 23-0 victory over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Even before he knew he wasn’t going to play Thursday night, Mathis was thinking about the Giants.

“It’s pretty much what our training camp is for,” he said. “You don’t want to look past the preseason. There’s still work to be done.

“But Monday night – the opener – is always the main goal. The main thought is to get healthy going into that game.”

Mathis already has begun scouting the Giants.

“I’ve already cracked the film open,” Mathis said.

Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch started and played briefly, but he’s had the opener in the back of his mind – and moved it to the front before he left the locker room at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“My focus definitely has been on it,” he said. “Going into this week, we had a little bit of both films (on both teams). Now it’s that time. Monday Night football game, first Monday Night game . . . first time the country can see the Lions play against a very good, quality team.

“It’s definitely a statement night for us to go out and show everybody what we’re made of.”