While the Lions have excelled at losing games in the waning minutes this season, they had never had the ability to seal a win. Until Sunday.
With four seconds left on the clock, quarterback Jared Goff threw a perfect 11-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown to win the game, 29-27, over the Vikings at Ford Field.
“I’m proud of our guys. I’m happy for them, of course I’m happy. We’re all happy. I’m happy for the coaches, I’m happy for everybody. But it’s like, you want this so bad for the players. Because they’re the ones who put in all the hard work and the sweat and the tears. And yeah, we all do—and so do the coaches,’’ coach Dan Campbell said. “But it’s also—that’s what makes this great. When you lose, it hurts. It’s hard, it’s hard. But it’s also why winning is so great in this league. Because it’s not easy to do and when you get them, man, it’s special. I’m just proud of those guys. I’m proud of them.”
The Lions are now 1-10-1, and some weight has been lifted from their shoulders
Five things to know about the win:
1. Goff operated a 75-yard, 13-play drive with 1:50 left and one timeout remaining. The offense knew its role, knew to get out of bounds when possible, knew that it had to be nearly flawless to get the win. “We made some mistakes and we weren’t perfect. We played well in the first half, but that second half offensively we stalled, I threw the pick, made the fourth down turnover. We weren’t good,’’ Goff said. “We weren’t perfect, but having the ability to overcome mistakes is a sign of a good team and a winning team and that’s something we did today.”
2. Keep an eye on St. Brown. They’ve been trying to get the ball to him more often. In fact, three weeks ago they started working on the touchdown play in practice. He knew with 4 seconds left he had to catch the ball in the endzone. He was surprised by the Vikings’ soft coverage and took advantage. We’ll be seeing more of the rookie wide receiver. “I’ll be honest with you, we have a lot of trust in him. We have for a while, it’s just trying to get him the football here a little bit and staying on the field and being able to—we did a good job of first, second down today. We stayed efficient and we were able to continue to gather some drives because our third downs still weren’t good enough. But our first- and second-down efficiency was really good, so we were able to stay on the field and spread the ball around a little bit. But we have a lot of trust in him. He’s one of those guys who has become pretty dependable for us,’’ Campbell said. Goff on St. Brown: “He’s a stud.”
3. The defense kept the Lions in it after they watched their 20-6 halftime lead disappear and fell behind late in the fourth quarter. Also, the Vikings tried and failed on three 2-point conversions thanks to the defense. That could’ve been the difference i the game. “(Aaron Glenn) had a good beat on what they were going to do over there. And it’s just—we were prepared. Our guys did a good job,’’ Campbell said. “You can’t prepare them for every look you’re going to get, you just have to play the odds by personnel and looks that you get and hope that they play their roles. And they did a good job today. We did and it made a difference.”
4. Goff and Campbell shared a big hug in the post-game celebration. It’s been a tough season. Several weeks ago Campbell took over the offensive play-calling and was first to admit he needed some polishing. “I thought he called a great game today. I think today was kind of – we had the Pittsburgh game with the weather and I had the oblique thing, the Cleveland game where I didn’t play, and we also had weather. Last week was kind of our really first shot at like him really kind of trying to dial stuff up,’’ Goff said. “And then this week, I thought he really settled in well and was really good. It was really smooth. You guys saw the operation, it was smooth. I don’t think we had any false starts. I don’t know if we had an offensive penalty outside of the delay-of-game, but it was really good.”
5. The team needs to build on its first win. “Look, I think you acknowledge that this is what it took for us to win. We should all feel good, but man, what about these mistakes that could’ve cost us? We had some of those and you guys know it. So, we’ve got to continue to coach the negative because now, that’s not only how you win, that’s how you get better at winning if you can get to that point,’’ Campbell said. “And so, we just have to coach up those little things and continue to improve. So, Denver is not going to be easy either. None of these are easy, but this was a good start. And, I’m proud of them. They’ve continued to play, they played one more time and now let’s see if we can get them to play again, which they will.”
NEXT UP: Lions at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12.