The Detroit Lions defended home field and returned to the win column on Sunday, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 20-6. Detroit bounced back after falling to the Seattle Seahawks last week and leaned heavily on their defense Sunday which got key contributions from multiple players. Here are three big takeaways from the Lions’ win over the Falcons.
Three Takeaways From the Lions’ Win Over the Falcons
Detroit’s Defense Stepped Up
A week after giving up over 400 yards of total offense, the Detroit defense responded in a big way on Sunday. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Lions had struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks but finally broke through against Atlanta, finishing the day with seven sacks. Aidan Hutchinson had two of them along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the final minutes which put a bow on Detroit’s victory. Defensive back Brian Branch had 11 solo tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two pass deflections. The rookie made plays all over the field and has quickly become one of the best players on Detroit’s defense.
The most impressive feat from the defense was limiting Falcons star rookie running back Bijan Robinson to just 33 yards on 10 carries. After breaking off a long run on his first carry, Detroit did a good job of containing Robinson, holding him to just 60 total yards of offense. It was an inspiring performance that Detroit fans will hope to see more of as the season progresses.
The Rookies Have Arrived
While the Lions received plenty of hype this offseason, the biggest criticism they faced was how they approached the NFL Draft in April. Many pundits were quick to point out that Detroit wasted both of their first-round picks on non-premium positions when they selected running back Jahmyr Gibbs at 12 and linebacker Jack Campbell at 18. T
Through three games, however, Gibbs, Campbell, and their fellow rookie teammates have shown they were well worth the pick they were selected at. Gibbs has shown flashes of what made him so special in college as he continues to receive a bigger workload each week. He had four straight carries for 37 yards on the Lions’ final scoring drive on Sunday, showing off his speed and ability to make defenders miss. Campbell had six tackles and a big sack to end the first half and continues to make plays on special teams.
Sam LaPorta, who the Lions drafted in the second round, scored his first career touchdown on Sunday on a 45-yard strike from Jared Goff. LaPorta has produced in every game; he currently has the most receiving yards of any tight end in the NFL (186) along with the second most receptions of any tight end (18).
The rookie who has shined the brightest for Detroit is Brian Branch, who as mentioned earlier has become one of the Lions’ biggest playmakers on their defense. His versatility and ability to play multiple positions in the secondary gives Detroit flexibility and helps navigate injuries that they have already been riddled with. General Manager Brad Holmes deserves a ton of credit for how his latest draft class has looked early on.
Dan Campbell Plays It Conservative
Ever since his introductory press conference as the Lions’ head coach back in January of 2021, Dan Campbell has continued to emphasize just how hard-nosed and gritty his Lions will be. Campbell himself has taken on the same identity; he’s known for being one of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL. Whether it’s a fake punt, an onside kick, or going for it on fourth down, Campbell has proved he’s willing to roll the dice time and time again. On Sunday however, it was a different story.
At the end of the first quarter with the Lions offense facing a 4th and 6 from the Atlanta 18-yard line, Campbell opted to take the points as placekicker Riley Patterson connected from 37 to give Detroit a 3-0 lead. Then in the second quarter, on 4th and goal from Atlanta’s six-yard line, Campbell again chose to kick a field goal to push Detroit’s lead to double digits going into halftime. It ended up being the right decision as the Lions continued to build their lead in the second half and never relinquished it for the remainder of the game. Just as recently as last week, we saw Campbell decide to go for it on fourth down multiple times in Detroit’s loss to Seattle, so it will be interesting to see what Campbell decides to do in similar situations moving forward.
It was an impressive win overall for the Lions as they now prepare to head to Lambeau Field for a primetime showdown against the 2-1 Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football. If Detroit can replicate their defensive performance against Atlanta, then there’s a good chance they’ll leave Green Bay atop the NFC North standings.
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