Five things to know about the Lions win over the Vikings

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.

Lions honor the Oxford community following shooting, give them game ball

Dan Campbell said the last-second win on Sunday showed plenty about his team. Indeed when the Lions beat the Vikings 29-27 for their first win of the season it was a big deal.

Afterward, instead of basking in the break-through win, the team’s heart was on full display.

The Detroit Lions coach walked into the media interview room, wearing an Oxford Wildcats hat and carrying the game ball.

“First thing I would start is this game ball goes to the whole Oxford community, all of those who were affected. That being said, I want us to not forget these names.” Then he read names of those who died — Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, along with the names of those who were injured.

“Those names will never be forgotten, they’re in our hearts and our prayers all the families and not to mention all of those who were affected by all of this – the classmates, brothers and sisters, cousins, teachers, coaches, everybody,’’ Campbell said.

Prior to the game in warmpups, players and coaches were wearing Oxford Wildcats T-shirts and hats. Decals of the block letter ‘O’ were worn on the Lions and Vikings helmets. A moment of silence was held before the national anthem.

Campbell showed the team a news-reel type video in a team meeting on Saturday morning.

“We kind of dove into it, the depth of all of this. I just wanted them to know what we were going to represent today – the shirts, the hats, the decals. Some of our players know of someone who was affected,’’ Campbell said. “To me, my thought was if we can for three hours ease their suffering a little bit, that’s worth it. That’s kind of how I thought of this. We did a great job, the players responded and played well.’’

When quarterback Jared Goff was asked about the Oxford connection, he nearly choked up and had to compose himself.

“I’m trying not to get emotional, sometime special things happen in special circumstances and I think we saw yesterday what Michigan did against Iowa and then us today getting our first win in 12-13 weeks,’’ Goff said. “You never hope for a tragedy like this, but you hope you can be a light for those people, a positive that they can have fun watching today.

“I hope they were watching today and enjoyed that win and we can take their minds off it for maybe three hours. I think anytime we can do that, it’s a lot bigger than sports, a lot bigger than us and today was one of those special circumstances, we were able to rise to the occasion and make something special happen,” Goff added.

Tight end Brock Wright who caught the second touchdown pass from Goff in the win, was wearing his Oxford Wildcats shirt afterwards.

“It’s special for us to be able to do this … We knew that we’d be able to do a little something to try to bring a little joy to the families today. To be a part of that means a lot to me and means a lot to the rest of the team as well,’’ Wright said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of course.’’

Five things to watch as the Lions face Vikings, looking for 1st win

Each week brings a possibility that the Lions will pick up their first win of the season.

On Sunday the Lions (0-10-1) face the Minnesota Vikings (5-6) at Ford Field. The Vikings are coming off a 34-26 loss at San Francisco but had won the two previous games against the Packers and Chargers.

Somehow coach Dan Campbell has managed to keep the team’s energy up throughout the season.

“I think that it starts with the staff. I think the staff has done a good job of keeping the energy alive and keeping hope there and just continuing to coach up the details of the game,’’ Campbell said on Friday. “All of these players, they want to know that you care about them and that you’ve got some tools for them that are going to help them be better. And, that’s what our guys do.’’

Campbell, in his first year as head coach, also gives credits to the players. 

“Look, we’ve got – the vets we’ve got on this team –  they’re good vets. They understand it’s about – at some point, when you don’t get the wins, it’s still about pride and it’s about the way you want your play to look on tape and ultimately what we want to look like as a team,’’ Campbell said. “And then, we’ve got a lot of young, hungry players that want an opportunity to play. And, a lot of them are getting that opportunity, so that helps, too.”

Five things to watch on Sunday:

1. The Vikings will be without running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) however Detroit’s defense will have its hands full with Alexander Mattison. In the first meeting — a 19-17 Vikings win on Oct. 10 — Mattison carried 25 times for 113 yards. “He’s steady, he’s solid, he’s one of those guys you can’t sleep on. They’ve been running that scheme for a while. He understands that he’s a good back in that system. As he proved game one, it only takes one to kick out of there and change a game and he’s got that ability,’’ Campbell said, calling him a workhorse.

 2. The Lions will be without running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder). “It’s not easy to replace a guy like him, as dynamic as he’s been. … I think it really becomes that production is by committee now,’’ Campbell said. “Where does Swift’s production go now to get it back? And, I would say we’re trying to find ways to spread it throughout this roster of skill players that we do have. Swift is going to take – I mean, Jamaal (Williams) is going to take a lot of that. So are the other two backs, (Jermar) Jefferson, Godwin (Igwebuike), and then some of the other just pass production is going to have to come from our receivers and tight ends.”

3. The Lions’ defense has to bounce back after allowing the Bears to stay on the field for 8 and a half minutes in their final game-winning drive on Thanksgiving. “To me, I look at playing this game in general just like you play the position of corner. You can have 59 great plays and that one bad play and you ultimately looked at that bad play, and that’s just what it is,’’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said. “That’s just defensive football. So, I looked at that last drive, as good as we played, after the game I looked at that last drive as a black eye for us because we looked at it together as a defensive staff and there were like three plays we could’ve gotten off the field.’’

4.  Injuries again play a role. Along with Swift, sitting this one out for the Lions are OLB Trey Flowers (knee), CB Bobby Price (shoulder) and LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder). Questionable are RT Penei Sewell (illness/shoulder), T Matt Nelson (ankle) and DE Michael Brockers (knee). 

5. A few of the Lions know Oxford football coach Zach Line who was a linebacker with the Vikings and Saints. Tate Myre, a standout player for Line, was one of four students killed in the Oxford High School shooting on Tuesday. The Lions will have decals on the back of their helmets to show support for Oxford. They also had T-shirts and hats made.  “We’ll have a moment of silence before the game certainly, but those guys are on our minds. We want to represent them on Sunday,’’ Campbell said. “I know there will be a group of those students and kids and people that have been affected that will be watching this game. Right now, that’s the best way to help them.”

PREDICTION: Vikings 21, Lions 14