If you like points, then this was the game for you.
The Detroit Lions held on to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers 41-38 in a game that saw both offenses combine for ten(!) total touchdowns. Detroit never wavered, even after relinquishing a 14-point lead, and on their final drive, marched 53 yards before Riley Patterson‘s game-winning field goal as time expired. There were plenty of takeaways from the Lions’ sixth win in their last seven games, and we’ll look at some of them below.
Takeaways From Lions’ Shootout Win Over Chargers
“You Play to Win the Game!”
Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards said it best: “You play to win the game,” and that’s exactly what Lions head coach Dan Campbell did on Detroit’s game-winning drive that he orchestrated to perfection. On the first play, wide receiver Kalif Raymond broke off a 41-yard pitch-and-catch from quarterback Jared Goff and Detroit immediately found themselves in Los Angeles territory. After failing to convert on an ensuing 3rd down, it was decision time for Campbell: Attempt a 40+ yard field goal and give a Chargers team that had been moving the ball with ease an opportunity to tie or potentially win the game? Or try to gain two yards and keep possession? Campbell correctly chose the latter, and his aggressiveness paid off. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta hauled in a pass from Goff on fourth down and after three kneel-downs, Patterson nailed a 41-yard field goal as time expired to push the Lions’ record to 7-2 for just the third time since 1970.
Campbell deserves a ton of credit for staying aggressive. In Week 2, he was heavily criticized for playing conservatively at the end of regulation, ultimately costing the Lions as they fell overtime to the Seattle Seahawks. This week, however, was a different story. Many coaches would have been content taking three points and relying on their defense to get a stop. Campbell, though, coached to win. He trusted his offense and, as a result, led Detroit to its second consecutive victory.
Best Backfield in Football?
The Lions welcomed running back David Montgomery back on Sunday after missing the last three contests with a rib injury. In his absence, rookie Jahmyr Gibbs excelled as the lead back and fans were eager to see how the two of them would look together in Montgomery’s return. Safe to say, they were not disappointed. Montgomery and Gibbs combined for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 26 total carries while Gibbs added three catches for 35 yards. The two worked all over the field, and it was actually Gibbs who assumed the goal line touches, scoring both of his touchdowns from inside the five-yard line. Montgomery, ironically enough, broke off a 75-yard run for a score in the second quarter, the longest touchdown run by a Lion since Jahvid Best in 2011.
Sunday’s performance was a testament to how versatile the duo is; it’s usually Montgomery punching it in on the goal line and Gibbs breaking off a long run, however, the roles were reversed against Los Angeles. The Detroit backfield is one of, if not the best in football, and is the engine that makes the Lions’ offense go. Sunday felt like the beginning of what fans can expect to see moving forward from the Detroit run game.
While the Detroit offense flourished, the defense faltered. On Los Angeles’ final five drives, they found the endzone:
- 10 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
- 10 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
- 10 plays, 92 yards, touchdown
- 16 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
- 7 plays, 68 yards, touchdown
It was an uninspiring and, quite frankly, unacceptable performance from a unit that overall has played well this season. The secondary got gashed, allowing Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to complete nearly 70% of his passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. The Detroit front could not generate any pressure throughout the game, failing to record a single sack and giving Herbert a clean pocket to throw from. One silver lining was the run defense that limited star running back Austin Ekeler to just 67 yards on the ground. It’s the second time in three games that Detroit has given up 38 points, and they’ll need to quickly improve on that side of the ball if they want to be seen as a legit contender.
The Lions head home and will prepare to take on their division rival Chicago Bears next week from Ford Field. Kickoff is at 1 PM EST.
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