Five things to know about Lions win over Packers and the season’s finish

In a season opened with eight straight losses, new coach Dan Campbell made his share of mistakes. He’ll be happy to share that with you.

The most remarkable achievement may have been keeping the players in every game, keeping them focused and not allowing their shoulder to sink.

It’s not a little thing for a coach to be able to inject such an attitude. 

Perhaps Sunday’s 37-30 win over the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field was a perfect example of this never-say-die attitude. 

The Lions really didn’t have anything to play for other than pride, but you wouldn’t know that And, yes, the Packers who are the NFC North champs, played some of their backups in the second half, but still it was a good solid win for the Lions who finished 3-3 in their final six and 3-13-1 overall.

“When you’re where we’re at, when you get late in the season and you don’t have wins, it’s not easy for guys to continue to put their best foot forward, continue to come to work, continue to grind,’’ Campbell said. “Our guys did that. They knew what we are trying to build.

“For us it was what we said on Day One. We’re looking for a gritty team, guys that are resilient, guys willing to lay it on the line, you’re not going to feel 100% those guys that are 80-90% they can still produce and give it their all,’’ Campbell added.

“I do feel like all the way through this season, those guys never lost hope and I think that’s important, that there is hope,’’ the coach said.

They also seem to feed off his aggressiveness. Fourth down? In many cases, he went for it. On Sunday, he used two trick plays to score touchdowns. Whatever it takes. 

Five things to know:

1. Quarterback Jared Goff took plenty of flack in the first half of the season. Some of it was deserved, some not. But he never threw up his hands, he never quit. “What I respect about him is he hung in there and he was resilient, but yet accountable to his own performance,’’ Campbell said. “Collectively we knew we all had to get better. He never wavered, he was there everyday, he was ready to go, he was upbeat, he wanted to be better and in turn has made us all better.’’ Goff admitted there were rocky times and he’s proud of the way he and his teammates handled it. “To finish the season the way we did is a testament to not giving up in those situations,’’ Goff said.

2. Despite an incredible number of injuries the defense was fairly consistent. They had a few bad games and awful quarters but they improved under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn as the season wore on. In Sunday’s win Tracy Walker and C.J. Moore intercepted quarterback Jordan Love at key points in the second half. Moore’s interception with a few seconds remaining sealed the win. Campbell mentioned the way the team played complementary football in Sunday’s win. It was key.

3. A star emerged in rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, a fourth-round pick. He set a Lions record for yardage for rookie wide receivers with his first catch on Sunday. He admitted he knew exactly how many yards he needed, Nothing wrong with that.  He set an NFL record a week ago for a rookie wide receiver catching at least eight passes in eight straight games. He extended that to nine games on Sunday. Campbell said, “He’s better than gold.” Goff reminded that St. Brown’s name translates to Sun God. He finished with 8 catches for 109 yards on Sunday and for the season the rookie had 90 catches for 911 yards and five touchdowns

4. The offensive line was battered all season. On Sunday, guard Jonah Jackson had to move over to center after Evan Brown went out. Jackson and Goff took about five snaps on the sideline and went for it. That’s just how the season went and still for the most part, the line did its job. Guard Penei Sewell spent training camp learning the right guard position then had to move to the left side when Taylor Decker was injured. This line should be one of the Lions’ strengths in the future.

5. Goff said Sunday’s win and the way the Lions finished the season 3-3 should be a good springboard for next season. The players who are on the roster now, know what to expect from Campbell and he knows how to push the right buttons. While a 3-13-1 record could draw many an eye roll, dig a little deeper and the future for this bunch looks a little brighter.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five keys in the Lions’ 31-24 loss to Packers

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions, in their second game under interim head coach Darrell Bevell, hung with the Packers in the first half but then couldn’t get Green Bay’s offense off the field in the third quarter.

When it was over, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers beat the Lions 31-24 in a late matinee game on Sunday at Ford Field.

“We were going up against against one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it in this league,’’ Bevell said. “To be able to be in it at the end of the game with one possession to determine it. I was really proud of the guys and how they fought, they finished all the way to the end.’’

Quarterback Matthew Stafford wasn’t able to finish the game after getting crunched in the ribs in the fourth quarter. Bevell said it was too early to know if Stafford will have to miss a game or more. The quarterback was getting X-rays after the game.

“Matthew Stafford is as tough as they come, he’s a huge competitor, I know he’s going to want to be out with his team, it’s going to have to be pretty drastic for him not to be in there,’’ Bevell said.

Five key plays in the game:

1. Tied 14-14 at the half, the Packers had the first possession in the third. Talk about total domination for one quarter. In the third, they led in time of possession 13:49 to 1:21. In the third and into the fourth, Green Bay had two scoring drives. One was 14 plays, 75 yards eating up 8:49. The other was a dozen plays for 79 yards taking 7:49 off the clock. “That’s not how I wanted to start the second half, they came out, went on a long drive, when that happens on the offensive side of the ball we need to respond and do a good job of giving our defense a time to rest,’’ Bevell said. “We didn’t do that. We went three-and-out put them back out there and I think they had another long drive.  Fortunately for us we were able to get it settled but that was a big swing in the game.

2. Aaron Rodgers was, well, Aaron Rodgers. He completed his first 10 pass attempts and finished with three passing touchdowns and 290 yards. He was never sacked and the Lions’ defense recorded one quarterback hit. He also carried the ball six times for 13 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown scamper. He’s 37 but his age certainly isn’t showing.

3. In the first half, Stafford was methodical in two scoring drives. One ending with a 1-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson and the second a 3-yard run by D’Andre Swift. It was a solid start for the Lions against a good Packers defense. “It doesn’t surprise me, I’m proud of this team. Like I said at the beginning of this thing, these guys are ready to fight, they want to continue to play week-in and week-out,’’ Bevell said. “As you saw they were in it untilt he tend. We’re going toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in our division but also in the NFC. I couldn’t be happier for these guys and the way they played.’’

4. Quarterback Chase Daniel, in for an injured Stafford, ran in from 4 yards out for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter but it was negated by a holding call on Matt Nelson. It definitely would have closed the game with 2:03 remaining. The Lions had to settle for a field goal. It’s uncertain if it could’ve been the difference in the result. Certainly there is a chance of that.

5. Yes it was a loss, so Bevell is 1-1 as head coach. It was a tough assignment against one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Packers beat the Lions 42-21in Week 2. Here’s the thing, Bevell had them ready to play. On the Packers first possession, they scored on a 56-yard touchdown toss to Davante Adams capping a three-play drive. It looked like it was going to be a long day in Detroit, but the defense hung in there and the offense found a rhythm (and the magic of a screen pass). 

BONUS: The Packers held the edge in rushing yards, 120-51. … Green Bay was whistled for a dozen penalties (68 yards) while Detroit had 4 for 30 yards. … Final time of possession was 35:30 for the Packers and 24”30 for the Lions … Stafford threw for 203 yards in the first half and 41 in the second. … Danny Amendola had six catches for 66 yards. … Cornerback Darryl Roberts led the Lions’ defense with 7 tackles. 

Up next: Lions (5-8) at Titans (9-4). Tennessee dropped the Jaguars, 31-10, on Sunday.

(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)

Five things to watch as Detroit Lions face Packers

The Detroit Lions in their first game under interim head coach Darrell Bevell pulled off a huge win last Sunday. Bevell brought a change of attitude and it worked against the Bears.

It just gets tougher when the Lions (5-7) face the division rival Green Bay Packers (9-3) at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday at Ford Field.

Bevell has to keep the team focused despite the changes and uncertainty of the future.

“I always worry about us over-trying and trying to get outside of what we’re doing to make a play. That’s why the focus is really on – it’s always about us. It’s about how we play,’’ Bevell said. “The football field has not changed dimensions. The football hasn’t changed dimensions. The game that they’ve been playing since they were 8 years old hasn’t changed at all. It’s just go out there and play, play fast, play free. I think that can be a really freeing experience where you get out of your own head, you just go play a game that you love to play, and you play it at a high level and not worry about those types of things.”

In Week 2 at Lambeau Field, the Packers beat the Lions, 42-21.

Five things to watch:

  1. The Lions’ defense had trouble stopping the Bears in the first half last week. They were able to tighten up in the second half and made a key play (Romeo Okwara’s strip sack) in the waning minutes. The difference?
    When we came out at halftime, there was no panic. Went in there and had a great conversation, showed the things we didn’t do well, didn’t tackle very well in the first half, didn’t really schematically get beat, just guys out of position,’’ defensive coordinator Cory Undlin said. “So came out of the tunnel at halftime, didn’t blink, and I think that obviously showed up in the second half. Moved some things around, some pieces, made some adjustments, again nothing major, but I think the credit goes to the players coming out of halftime, nobody’s head was down.’’

2. Stopping Aaron Rodgers will present much more of a challenge. Rodgers has thrown 36 touchdown passes against just four interceptions this season. The Packers’ offense scores more points per game (31.6) than any other NFL team and ranks second in yards per game (396.6). “Well just playing Aaron Rodgers makes you adjust to everything. He’s just playing at such a high level right now. He does an outstanding job of understanding, diagnosing what you’re presenting him, and then he gets the ball out as quick as anybody,’’ Bevell said. “So he’s a hard guy to get to, so you have to change things up, you have to try to mix it up for him, to make it as hard as you can on him. But like I said, he’s about as good as they come at diagnosing all that.”

3. Matthew Stafford threw for 402 yards against the Bears including three touchdown passes. Five of his receivers caught passes of at least 20 yards. “As I said, we have those (big plays) built in, we’re trying to look for them. But we did talk about just aggressively, how much we wanted to take them. I think it was a perfect storm that we were finally able to get as many as we got,’’ Bevell said. “Matthew (Stafford), I thought he was – like I said earlier – I thought he was really settled in. I thought he did a great job inside the pocket with some tough rushes at times, but his eyes continued to stay downfield. And then, he just took them and gave his guys opportunities to make plays. I think that a couple of them, particularly the one to (Quintez) Cephus on the right side for the touchdown, I mean he gave him an opportunity, and he took the shot. We’re continuing to work on that and hopefully it stays in that direction.”

4. With D’Andre Swift out last week, Adrian Peterson rushed for 57 of the Lions total 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Swift is officially questionable to return, recovering from an “illness.” He really could provide a boost. Wide receive Kenny Golladay is out for the sixth straight game with a hip injury. 

5. Bevell has preached that the players keep playing hard no matter what the scoreboard reads. It worked in his first game. “That’s the thing that we’re trying to instill, is to do exactly that, is to make sure that you don’t measure the game,’’ Bevell said. “You can come out and the team can have – you’ve seen it before — you get great momentum with an opening kickoff for a touchdown, and you lose 35-7. Or you get up 21-0 at half, and you lose 28-21. It doesn’t really matter how you start, although you want to start well. But it does matter how you finish, whether that you can break it down to a play, you can break it down to a quarter, to a half, and all the way until the end of the game. So that’s what I’m trying to instill in these guys, ‘Don’t measure it.’ It helps you from avoiding the emotions that you can get caught up in in the game.’’

Prediction: Packers 38, Lions 30