DETROIT — After defeating the Jaguars 40-14 on Sunday, Lions coach Dan Campbell said he thinks his team can compete with anybody.
“You got to do all the things right, to win, as we all know. It doesn’t matter who we play, it doesn’t matter what the record is. If you don’t play clean enough football, you turn the ball over, you don’t get takeaways, you get a ton of penalties, then no you’re not going to win,’’ Campbell said after the game. “Doesn’t matter who you play. But, when we do things right, I like our odds.”
Detroit’s defense set the tempo early when they forced a fumble and recovered it on Jacksonville’s second snap. The offense came in, went 38 yards downfield finishing with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Williams,
“It was kind of one of those games where early, we felt like we would hold up. We felt like we were going to be alright upfront,’’ Campbell said. “It was validated very early in that game. We felt like our guys were just going to be alright.”
It didn’t get better for the Jags’ offense which converted just 3 of 12 third downs. In comparison the Lions were 8 of 12 on third downs.
“I felt like this was a big win for us. I did. Cause I just feel like this is a game that can catapult us through December,’’ Campbell said. “It was big to win, it was big to come off a loss, and it was big to win that way against a team that’s a lot like us in trying to turn a corner, get everything turned back the other way.
Five of the many reasons the Lions won:
- After a 23-6 halftime lead, the Lions did not let up. They’ve seen that movie before and it had an ugly ending. On Oct 30 they were up 27-17 at the half to the Dolphins and lost 31-27. These Lions are so much different than the Oct. 30 bunch. They got the ball to start the second half, D’Andre Swift ran in from 1 yard out to score a touchdown on an 61-yard drive and the Lions went up 30-6.
2. This team is as healthy as it’s been all season. Running back D’Andre Swift showed signs in practice last week that he was back to his old self. Indeed he had 111 all-purpose yards including a rushing score. Wide receiver D.J. Chark, who has been injured much of the season, came up big with a 41-yard pass play that set up a touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown. It was one of two touchdown catches for St. Brown who had 11 catches for 114 yards. “We said going into this game, the bigs did a good job, but really we felt like our skill guys had to show up,’’ Campbell said. “That was the key, our receivers and our DBs. We knew it was that type of game and, boy, they did. All the way across the board our skill (players) played top-notch today.”
3. Jared Goff led the offense which scored on every possession except at the very end when a knee was taken with less than a minute left. “Those guys up front, first of all, like you said, they kind of set the tone, run game and pass game. I mean, especially for me in the pass game, it was clean pockets all day long, and guys were getting open, and we knew what kind of game it was going be with the coverages they play,’’ Goff said. “They get so much depth typically. It was going to be the underneath passing game, and when our shots were there, we were going to take them, but for the most part, it was just going to completions, completions, and that’s what we did.” Campbell said Goff played as good as he could play. Goff completed 31 of 41 passes for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was his fourth straight game without an interception.
4. Detroit’s defense, which was just awful to start the season, has turned the corner with the young guys getting invaluable experience each week. The Jaguars’ offense was held to 14 points (one touchdown). Since Oct. 16 Jacksonville has scored at least 17 points per game. In only one game all season did they manage less than 14 points. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was 17 of 31 for 179 yards and one touchdown. “I think we’re just hitting our stride right now. From the start of that game, it felt like we were rolling and were on the same page, offense, defense,’’ rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson said.
5. Timing is everything for the 5-7 Lions who still have a shot at the playoffs. “Nothing has changed (since the Thanksgiving loss). It’s the same group of guys that we have talked about. And it’s the same when things didn’t look so good. They put in the same amount of work and they just have gone in and they have not lost faith. They are unbroken, they are unshaken, and they just go to work, man,’’ Campbell said. “It’s a group of guys that just go to work. They believe in the game plan and they have a lot of confidence right now. They trust the guy next to them and we’re clicking right now. We’re clicking at the right time.”
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
BONUS: Wide receiver Jameson Williams saw his first NFL action in limited play. That was the plan for the rookie who is coming off ACL surgery 10 months ago. “Today was just about getting his legs under him. Go through pre-game, be on the sideline, you got your pads on, run into a huddle, run out, line up, wrestle with someone one-on-one a little bit. It was really that, just to get him somewhat acclimated, very much like we did (CB) Jerry Jacobs in Dallas. That’s really what this was. He’s going to get a little bit more next week,’’ Campbell said.
(Up next: Vikings (10-2) at Lions, 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11)