Lions pull off huge 20-17 win over Jets to keep playoff hopes alive

Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

It’s a sign of maturation and growing confidence that the Lions grabbed a big road win when they needed it most.

Detroit fought for a crucial 20-17 win at the N.Y. Jets on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Lions have now won six of their last seven, three straight and three straight road games. After a 1-6 start, they’re amazingly at 7-7.

“It feels great, it does. You’ll never take away from winning, not in this league. I told our guys nobody knows that better than we do,’’ Campbell said.” We’re not going to talk trash about a win, a win is a win and we’ll take that because we earned that. But the reality is moving forward we do have to clean a few of these things up that could have cost us today. A win feels great. The guys, they believe. Now here we go  this is another win but we had to find a different way to win. Every time that happens, you continue to grow and figure things out and your confidence grows.’’

Halftime adjustments can be huge whether Xs and Os or otherwise. Campbell said he talked to the team at the half because he felt they were making some mistakes because they were afraid to fail.

“More than anything that to me is going to be critical, I don’t think it’s about taking the cheese, all of that, because we can play, we’ve got a good enough team to play,’’ Campbell said . “Our deal has got to be we can’t become so tense and start doing things we weren’t doing (previously). There’s a reason we’ve gotten to this point and we’re beginning to win. If we start becoming too tense and uptight, so afraid we’re going to lose, you’re not going to win that way. We’re getting better as a team.’’

Five of the reasons the Lions won:

1. Late in the fourth, down 17-13, on a fourth-and-inches play,, Jared Goff connected with tight end Brock Wright for a 51-yard touchdown play. It gave the Lions a 20-17 lead which they were able to hold onto. It seemed the offense had played more conservatively most of the game, so that call caught a few by surprise including the Jets. “It’s a great call, it’s an easy read, an easy completion if we do it right and we did it right,’’ Jared Goff said. “We’ve got Brock with some speed, didn’t know he’d be that open, but when they are it’s pretty good.’’ Wright got some key blocks and was able to get into the end zone. It was his only catch of the game, he had dropped one earlier but that had not eroded confidence in him from Goff or the coaches.

2. After that touchdown, with 1:49 left all the Jets needed was a field goal to tie. Quarterback Zach Wilson had been erratic but had connected on several chunk plays. The defense held them just enough so their field goal attempt was from 58 yards. It was no good. “We stopped them, we came up with some critical sacks, hurries, we covered well. It was great and I think that’s part of the maturing process, the growth, everything,’’ Campbell said. “I don’t know if we would have made those plays early in the year — something would have gone the other way — but that just shows we’re getting more mature, we’re becoming more disciplined in the critical moments.’’

3. The Lions offense wasn’t as prolific as in recent games, but give the Jets defense credit. They are tough and the Lions expected that and they got it. Goff finished 23 of 38 for 252 yards and one touchdown. “We hadn’t done much offensively the whole game, specifically the second half hadn’t really done anything. I certainly wasn’t playing my best ball in the second half,’’ Goff said. But then he hit Wright on that touchdown play.  

4. Zach Wilson was sacked four times and the pressure was on most of the game. Romeo Okwara, who was playing in just his second game this season, had a pair of sacks. John Cominsky had a huge sack on the Jets’ final drive on a second-and-10 play that pushed the Jets back 8 yards. Rookie James Houston set off the sack fest in the first quarter on a third-and-2 play. It was Houston’s fifth sack in four games. Campbell said he was happy to have Okwara back and expects he’ll be even better next week.

5. Punt returner/wide receiver Kalif Raymond was given a game ball. His punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter got the Lions on the board. He also had five catches for 53 yards. “He’s our Iron man,’’ Campbell said.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions.)

(Next up: Lions (7-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-8) who lost 24-16 to the Steelers on Sunday.)

Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on Amazon.com. She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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