Gave: Lions' teamwork key to Glover Quin's 'magical season'
ALLEN PARK -- Walking sound bite Glover Quin is as adept at fielding questions from the media as he is defending against the pass in the Detroit Lions' secondary.
He'll swat down a lazy, oft-heard question, like how does his team keep its focus in the midst of a playoff race, with a dressed-up cliche -- "It's not about the destination; it's about the journey...Teamwork makes the dream work."
But he's also prone to picking off a question and running with it, like he did with his game-changing interception in Sunday's win over Minnesota, his third pick in three games, all victories that put the Lions in position to clinch a playoff berth this weekend when they travel to Chicago.
Quin's six interceptions have him tied for the league lead and at least in the conversation about the best free safeties in the game. And yes, he said, he allows himself to think about that just a little bit.
"This is a magical season for me," Quin said before Wednesday's practice. "I can't sit here and say that it's not exciting, it's not fun."
Leading the NFL in any statistical category is an extraordinary accomplishment, Quin said, and he doesn't take it lightly.
"It's something I'll have for the rest of my life, to tell my kids about it," he said. "Just to play in this league is a big accomplishment. But to say, 'Hey, man, you led the league. That's a big deal."
Heading into the final two games of the regular season, Quin is tied with Cleveland's Tashaun Gibson for the NFL lead with six. The last Lions player to lead the NFL in interceptions was a rookie named Lem Barney in 1967. He had 10 that year, the start of a Hall of Fame career.
Quin's big play Sunday ignited a comeback from a 14-0 deficit to visiting Minnesota. With the Vikings driving again in the second quarter, Quin intercepted a pass at the Detroit 33-yard line and returned it 56 yard to the Minnesota 11. Two plays later, the Lions had cut their deficit in half en route to a 16-14 victory.
The play earned Quin some long-overdue recognition that secondary partner James Ihedigbo was only too happy to announce to a throng of microphones and notebooks that surrounded his locker a few paces away.
"NFC Defensive Player of the week," Ihedigbo said of Quin. "It's about time he's started getting some recognition. The guy is a beast."
Asked why it's taken so long for Quin to get this kind of respect, especially since he and the Lions have had the top defense in the league for most of the season, Ihedigbo shrugged his shoulders and turned it around.
"I don't know why," he said. "You guys are the ones writing the stories. He's the one making all those plays, keeping this defense together. It's just good to see he's finally getting some."
For the record, this isn't Quin's first rodeo when it comes to league stardom. In Week 12 of the 2010 season with Houston, he earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week for three interceptions in one game against the Tennessee Titans. They were his first interceptions as a professional.
But now, with this team and this defense having the kind of year they're having, and hearing his name mentioned among the elite safeties in the game -- is this the best stretch of football in his career?
"I would say yes," he said. "Outside of the interceptions, it's the overall game we're playing. The interceptions are extra."
And extra special, especially the last three, Quin acknowledged.
"The timing of the one on Sunday made that one very special," he said. "The catch against Tampa made that one special. And the interception on Thanksgiving Day, because it was Thanksgiving Day and because it put the game away, that was pretty special."
Coaches and teammates universally suggest that Quin puts himself in a position to succeed every down with an extraordinary work ethic and attention to detail in every part of his game -- and his life.
"Glover, he's that guy that comes in here, with the lunch pail going to work every day and leading by example," receiver Calvin Johnson said. "It shows on the field all the hard work they're putting in (on defense)."
So now that he's in the conversation, at least, about who are the best safeties in the game, can we talk about the Pro Bowl? What would that mean to Glover Quin?
His eyes lit up a bit as he measured the question carefully. But in the end, he swatted it down.
"It would mean," he said, pausing, "a lot."