The Detroit Lions took care of business Saturday night, dominating the Denver Broncos from start to finish to push their record to 10-4. The offense rolled, the defense bounced back, and Detroit is now one win away from clinching their first division title in 30 years. Below are some takeaways from the Lions’ impressive primetime win.
Three Takeaways from Lions’ Dominant Win Over Broncos
Aaron Glenn’s Defense Shows Up
The Lions’ defense had one of their best performances of the season, limiting the Broncos to just 223 yards of total offense. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn schemed up numerous blitz packages with multiple coming from the secondary where third-year defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu made the most of his opportunities.
After making his first career start last week against the Chicago Bears, the former third-round pick had the second most tackles for Detroit on Saturday and forced a big fumble on a sack in the first quarter. He had another pass breakup in the second half that would have been a long completion for Denver, and also contributed on special teams. The Detroit defense made life difficult for Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson all night, constantly pressuring the Denver signal caller and forcing him to work outside of the pocket.
It was a welcomed sight for a defensive unit that’s struggled over the last month in stopping their opponents. Long drives consisting of chunk plays have hampered a Lions team that’s had to rely on their offense to bail them out of games. That wasn’t the case on Saturday; Detroit forced four punts in the first half and pitched a shutout while limiting Denver to 75 total yards through the first two quarters. It wasn’t perfect at times, but it was a step in the right direction for a unit that will be adding CJ Gardner-Johnson as soon as next week.
Rookies Rule The Night
How good are these Lions rookies?!
It’s impossible to overstate just how impressive Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs have been for Detroit in their rookie campaigns. Let’s start with LaPorta. The Iowa product is having arguably the best season for a rookie tight end in NFL history. He added to his impressive year on Saturday, catching five passes on six targets for 56 yards and three(!) touchdowns. The most impressive thing about LaPorta is his ability to gain yards after the catch, which was on full display on his first touchdown reception. LaPorta caught a pass from quarterback Jared Goff near the sideline, stayed in-bounds, and broke multiple tackles on his way to the end zone for a 19-yard score.
Gibbs continues to prove the critics wrong, showing everyone that he was worthy of his first-round selection in April’s draft. On Saturday, Gibbs had two touchdowns of his own while also producing 108 all-purpose yards on 13 total touches. He broke off big runs to the tune of 9.1 yards per carry, and his explosiveness and elite speed continue to cause matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Healthy Offensive Line Makes All The Difference
For one of the few times this season, the Lions had a healthy offensive line on Saturday — and it showed.
Yes, Goff was sacked twice, but besides that had tons of time to operate in the pocket and looked comfortable while doing so. He threw five touchdown passes, tying a career-high, and commanded the offense at a high level. The rushing attack was lethal, totaling 185 yards on the ground while dominating Denver in the trenches.
Detroit has been forced to play musical chairs across the line this year, shuffling players in and out of multiple spots. As a result, the offense has faltered at times. On Saturday, the group showed just how lethal they can be when the quarterback has time to throw and the backs have holes to run through. If the line can stay healthy for the rest of the season, and that’s a big if, the Lions’ offense is virtually impossible to stop.
Detroit got back to what they do best on Saturday: dominate the line of scrimmage, run the ball at will, and get timely stops on defense. As a result, they find themselves one win away from winning the NFC North for the first time ever. They’ll look to make history next week when they travel to take on their division rival Minnesota Vikings.
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