Five things to know about Lions win over Packers and the season’s finish

In a season opened with eight straight losses, new coach Dan Campbell made his share of mistakes. He’ll be happy to share that with you.

The most remarkable achievement may have been keeping the players in every game, keeping them focused and not allowing their shoulder to sink.

It’s not a little thing for a coach to be able to inject such an attitude. 

Perhaps Sunday’s 37-30 win over the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field was a perfect example of this never-say-die attitude. 

The Lions really didn’t have anything to play for other than pride, but you wouldn’t know that And, yes, the Packers who are the NFC North champs, played some of their backups in the second half, but still it was a good solid win for the Lions who finished 3-3 in their final six and 3-13-1 overall.

“When you’re where we’re at, when you get late in the season and you don’t have wins, it’s not easy for guys to continue to put their best foot forward, continue to come to work, continue to grind,’’ Campbell said. “Our guys did that. They knew what we are trying to build.

“For us it was what we said on Day One. We’re looking for a gritty team, guys that are resilient, guys willing to lay it on the line, you’re not going to feel 100% those guys that are 80-90% they can still produce and give it their all,’’ Campbell added.

“I do feel like all the way through this season, those guys never lost hope and I think that’s important, that there is hope,’’ the coach said.

They also seem to feed off his aggressiveness. Fourth down? In many cases, he went for it. On Sunday, he used two trick plays to score touchdowns. Whatever it takes. 

Five things to know:

1. Quarterback Jared Goff took plenty of flack in the first half of the season. Some of it was deserved, some not. But he never threw up his hands, he never quit. “What I respect about him is he hung in there and he was resilient, but yet accountable to his own performance,’’ Campbell said. “Collectively we knew we all had to get better. He never wavered, he was there everyday, he was ready to go, he was upbeat, he wanted to be better and in turn has made us all better.’’ Goff admitted there were rocky times and he’s proud of the way he and his teammates handled it. “To finish the season the way we did is a testament to not giving up in those situations,’’ Goff said.

2. Despite an incredible number of injuries the defense was fairly consistent. They had a few bad games and awful quarters but they improved under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn as the season wore on. In Sunday’s win Tracy Walker and C.J. Moore intercepted quarterback Jordan Love at key points in the second half. Moore’s interception with a few seconds remaining sealed the win. Campbell mentioned the way the team played complementary football in Sunday’s win. It was key.

3. A star emerged in rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, a fourth-round pick. He set a Lions record for yardage for rookie wide receivers with his first catch on Sunday. He admitted he knew exactly how many yards he needed, Nothing wrong with that.  He set an NFL record a week ago for a rookie wide receiver catching at least eight passes in eight straight games. He extended that to nine games on Sunday. Campbell said, “He’s better than gold.” Goff reminded that St. Brown’s name translates to Sun God. He finished with 8 catches for 109 yards on Sunday and for the season the rookie had 90 catches for 911 yards and five touchdowns

4. The offensive line was battered all season. On Sunday, guard Jonah Jackson had to move over to center after Evan Brown went out. Jackson and Goff took about five snaps on the sideline and went for it. That’s just how the season went and still for the most part, the line did its job. Guard Penei Sewell spent training camp learning the right guard position then had to move to the left side when Taylor Decker was injured. This line should be one of the Lions’ strengths in the future.

5. Goff said Sunday’s win and the way the Lions finished the season 3-3 should be a good springboard for next season. The players who are on the roster now, know what to expect from Campbell and he knows how to push the right buttons. While a 3-13-1 record could draw many an eye roll, dig a little deeper and the future for this bunch looks a little brighter.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to know about Lions 51-29 loss at Seahawks

While COVID and injuries have decimated the roster for weeks, on Sunday at Seattle the Detroit Lions were outmatched and outplayed in the 51-29 loss.

Coach Dan Campbell has found bits of magic here and there during the two-win season, but it was difficult to find positives on Sunday except for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown who continues to excel in his rookie season.

Detroit’s defense could not stop the Seahawks’ run game or Russell Wilson. It was a mismatch in the trenches all day long. It was not an unexpected loss and, in fact, the Lions (2-13-1) were better in the second half, once again showing off their never-give-up spirit.

Five things to know:

1. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to amaze. Doesn’t matter that the surrounding cast is depleted, this guy moves. On Sunday he became the first rookie in NFL history with at least eight catches in five straight games. In the loss, he also scored his first rushing touchdown along with eight catches for 111 yards and one receiving touchdown. Remember he was a fourth-round draft pick. 

2. The Lions did not appear to give up even when they were down 31-7 to start the second half. Credit to Campbell. Several of the young guys are trying to earn a roster spot in Detroit or elsewhere for next season. That helps, but not enough. Campbell has somehow got them playing hard for 60 minutes no matter the score. In the second half Detroit actually outscored Seattle, 22-20. (Sometimes you have to dig deep to find a positive.)

3. Dan Campbell continued his aggressive play-calling throughout and not just on fourth down. In the third quarter he had Tim Boyle throw to offensive lineman Matt Nelson who couldn’t keep his mitts on the ball. Then he tossed a touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Decker. Didn’t see that coming. Of course, a lack of healthy tight ends made that an option. When the Lions get more talent, hope Campbell keeps up with the aggressiveness and out-of-the-box calls.

4. Quarterback Tim Boyle, in his third career start, threw for an interception to start the second half but redeemed himself a bit with a touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown in the third quarter. Boyle is who he is. He is not Jared Goff (knee) who was watching from the sidelines. Boyle finished 22 of 37 for 262 yards (a career-high), two touchdowns and three interceptions.

5. Defensively Detroit had no answer for running back Rashaad Penny who had 25 carries for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This is the same defense that held the Falcons to 47 rushing yards in the previous week’s loss. The Seahawks finished with 497 net yards including 265 rushing yards. Campbell is in it to win it until the bitter end and it is obvious he has got his players thinking the same way.

NEXT UP:  Green Bay Packers at Lions at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, to close out Detroit’s season. The bitter end.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to know about Lions’ 20-16 loss to Falcons

Since Day One, Lions coach Dan Campbell has said they had a thin margin needed for a win. It has proven out all season. No more so than on Sunday when quarterback Tim Boyle threw an interception on a first-and-goal play with just seconds left. Kalif Raymond was the intended receiver surrounded by three Falcons’ defenders. He never had a chance. 

Boom. Falcons win 20-16 at Atlanta. 

The Lions (2-12-1) were coming off a huge win over the Cardinals and hung close throughout the game, but could not hold on for the win.

Five things to know: 

1. Coordinator Aaron Glenn has the defense ready each week no matter who he has on the active roster. On the Falcon’s first possession — 6 snaps — the Lions sacked quarterback Matt Ryan three times. Quite the nice hello. With so many starters missing, never have seen a next-man-up philosophy work so well. Of course, it’s probably good there are only two more games because he might be running out of bodies.

2. The Lions have been a different team since Campbell took over the play-calling following the Thanksgiving game. Good mix of run and pass, aggressive when it needs to be. With Jared Goff out with COVID, Boyle was ready to go. He completed his first six passes. His worst pass was his final one – the interception. Boyle finished 24 of 34 for 187 yards, 1 touchdown and the interception. “I thought he played fast, efficient, clean and certainly gave us a chance. He wasn’t a hindrance to us at all,” Campbell said. The offense ate up 7:34 on its opening drive ending with a field goal. It was similar to the 8:50 opening drive against the Cardinals.

3. Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown has produced 8-plus receptions in 4-straight games, joining Odell Beckham Jr. as the NFL’s only rookie wide receivers in the Super Bowl era to have such a streak. Pretty nice company. St. Brown joins WR Calvin Johnson Jr. as the only Lions to ever post 8-plus receptions in 4-straight games. He finished Sunday with nine receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for 19 yards.

4. Who doesn’t love trick plays? The fake punt in the first half, set up Boyle’s 20-yard touchdown pass to St. Brown. Special teams has been solid all season. Rookie kicker Riley Patterson is perfect on field goal attempts. He kicked three in the loss – two for 27 yards, one for 36 yards.

5. This final stretch of the season is not about draft picks, it’s about trying to win every game and develop the young players. With so many injuries, guys like running back Craig Reynolds – are getting plenty of snaps. The Lions are showing positive signs for next season. Campbell has made it clear he is not concerned about the draft at this point. So no more belly-aching, OK?

UP NEXT: Lions at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. on Sunday, Jan.2.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)