DETROIT — One more play, that’s what Lions coach Dan Campbell always preaches. Apparently the team was listening because on Sunday, against the NFC North division rival Green Bay Packers, the Lions dug deep and did just that.
It led to a 15-9 win that broke a five game losing streak for the 2-6 Lions. It was the fifth straight loss for Green Bay (3-6).
“I’m proud of our guys. They just don’t go away. They just, they believe they can win every week. They put it in and we made one more play today,’’ Campbell said. “We made one more play than they did to win the game.’’
Campbell gave defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn the game ball.
While the offense scored enough to win, it was the defense that forced three turnovers that was the difference.
“(Glenn) coaches his heart out and he put everything into it, as he always does, and those guys responded,’’ Campbell said.. “We knew we needed takeaways today. A minimum of two is what we talked about, and Kerby Joseph came up big. Hutch (Aidan Hutchinson) got one. But as a whole, that defense, man, they rose up. You know, I thought we played aggressive. I did think we challenged on the perimeter.’’
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (3-6) had no answers. Rodgers, who had four interceptions in the first eight games, had three on Sunday and all were in the Red Zone. Two were by rookie safety Kerby Joseph and the other was by rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson.
The Packers had other chances to score. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter Green Bay got the ball back at their own 43 after the Lions failed to convert on a fourth-and-3. Two minutes is a lifetime in the NFL so time wasn’t an issue, the Lions defense was. After converting a fourth-and-2 with a 32-yard pass to Samori Toure, the Packers were at Detroit’s 17-yard line. Four incomplete passes later — again, thanks to sterling defense —, Lions quarterback Jared Goff took a knee for the win.
“Well look, I just think it’s – look, I felt like we had a good plan for (Rodgers). And just how we wanted to play, look, you have to disguise. I mean you have to. And he’ll take it all the way down to the wire to get a bead on what you’re doing. And then, if you have an opportunity, you have to make the most of it, and we did that today,’’ Campbell said.
Leading up to Sunday, Campbell had fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant on Tuesday and Brad Holmes had traded tight end T.J. Hockenson for draft picks. Still Campbell was able to get his guys to focus on getting the win.
The Lions got on the board first just before halftime when Goff connected with tight end Shane Zykstra, who was wide-open, from one yard out for a score. Jamaal Williams ran it in for the 2-point conversion.
Rodgers connected with Allen Lazard for a 20-yard touchdown play, but the two-point conversion failed thanks to a pass breakup from Lions corner Jeff Okudah. So the LIons held an 8-6 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, on a third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, rookie tight end James Mitchell caught his first career touchdown. That gave Detroit a 15-6 edge. The Packers’ Mason Crosby kicked a 25-yard field goal. And that was it.
After the win on Sunday, the workhorse Campbell looked emotionally drained.
“Of course it feels good. I’ll be honest with you, I’m exhausted, so like I want to go home, put the feet up, drink a beer. So it feels real good. I’m just proud of them. I really am. I’m proud of our coaches. I’m proud of the players,’’ Campbell said. “I’m proud of everybody because everybody puts a lot of work into it. I know it’s only two (wins), but my gosh man. And there again, to see, end of the game, man, one stop, our defense comes through. I just think we need that, we needed that.’’
NOTES: Safety Kerby Joseph, who ended the game in concussion protocol, had a breakout game with 10 tackles (five solo), three pass defenses and two interceptions. He became the first Lions rookie to produce a two-interception game since S Devon Mitchell in 1986 and the first Lions safety to record a two-interception game since S Louis Delmas in 2013. … Linebacker Derrick Barnes had a career-high 12 tackles (four solo), one tackle for loss, one pass defense and one sack. He is the first Lions linebacker since Julian Peterson in 2010 to produce a game with at least 10 tackles, one pass defense and a sack. … Rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson logged two assisted tackles, one pass defense and one interception. The first-round pick became the Lions’ fourth rookie defensive lineman to record an interception, joining Ndamukong Suh (2010), Jim Doran (1951) and Thurman McGraw (1950). He joins Suh as the only Lions rookies to produce at least 4.5 sacks and one interception in a season. … The Lions now have 1,073 rushing yards through the first eight games of the season. This marks their most rushing yards through the first eight games of any season since 1998.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions.)
(Next up: Lions (2-6) at Bears (3-6), at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 13)