5 ways 2023 Lions echo 2021 Bengals playoff run

Started from the bottom, now they're here.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Trayveon Williams (32) leaps over the pile as he runs the ball in
Cincinnati Bengals running back Trayveon Williams (32) leaps over the pile as he runs the ball in / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Head Coaches Zac Taylor and Dan Campbell

In his first two years as head coach of the Detroit Lions, Dan Campbell had a winning percentage of .367 after going 12-21-1. After some questions about whether he should remain, the Lions coach persisted.

Twitter was filled with as many “fire Dan Campbell” tweets as there were shouting “fire Zac Taylor!"

Campbell is in his third year as the Lions' head coach. Any doubt that Campbell can be a successful HC has subsided. And the entire city of Detroit has his back.

In his first two seasons, Zac Taylor faced even more scrutiny about his capacity to be the man in charge in Cincinnati. The front office left many scratching their heads when they brought back Taylor for a third season after a winning percentage of .203 and a dreadful 6-25-1 record. But just like the Lions this year, the Bengals were rewarded for their patience with their head coach.

Both coaches rescued their respective teams from the realm of irrelevance to conference championship games in their third year with their franchises.

Taylor has turned the Bengals into a team that expects to contend for a Super Bowl every year. Now, it would seem Campbell has done the same for the Lions.

55 with the INT

Late in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans, a linebacker wearing 55 in stripes helped get the Bengals into the AFC Championship game with an interception off of Ryan Tannehill. That playoff run culminated with the Bengals representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

More recently, a Lions linebacker wearing number 55 helped secure a win in the divisional round, leading Detroit to the NFC Championship game.

When Derrick Barnes picked off Baker Mayfield, he accomplished much more than just winning the game. He uplifted an entire city starving to experience that moment and the next, which is playing for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.

Everyone in and from Cincinnati knows what Detroit is going through right now. We also know what it would mean for the Motor City if the Lions could pass the 49ers.