Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) raises his arms as the Lions beat the L.A. Rams, 24-23 in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, January 14, 2023.

Lions Beat Rams, Win First Playoff Game In 32 Years

The wait is finally over.

The Detroit Lions captured their first postseason victory in over three decades on Sunday, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 24-23. It wasn’t pretty at times, but Detroit got contributions from all three phases and made enough plays down the stretch to ensure they’d be advancing in the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1992. Below are takeaways from the Lions’ historic victory.

Lions Win First Playoff Game In 32 Years

Dan Campbell’s Gambles Pay Off

Since getting hired in 2021, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell has been known for his aggressive coaching style. On Sunday, it was on full display.

Campbell had many big decisions to make throughout the game. In the second quarter with his team facing a fourth-and-one from the Los Angeles two-yard line, Campbell decided to go for it and his team executed. Sam LaPorta, leg brace and all, caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to extend Detroit’s first-half lead. In the final frame, with the Rams facing a third-and-four from the Lions’ 34-yard line, Los Angeles was penalized for holding. Instead of declining the penalty, Campbell accepted it, leaving the Rams with a third-and-14 from the Detroit 44.

While that decision may not seem like a risk, the Lions’ defense struggles to get off the field on third-and-long, but Campbell’s squad came through when it mattered most. The Lions forced an incompletion that resulted in a Rams punt and with Detroit’s offense on the field and the game on the line, Campbell showed his aggressiveness yet again. Facing a second-and-nine, when most teams would run the ball, Goff completed a pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown for a first down that clinched a Detroit victory. Although the stakes were higher, Campbell never wavered in his approach, and as a result, the Lions are preparing for another game this weekend.

Red Zone

Our Lions-Rams preview from last week emphasized how both teams excelled in the red zone. On Sunday, it was Detroit, not Los Angeles, who took advantage of their red zone opportunities.

The Lions began the game by scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives, moving the ball at will and capitalizing once they got inside the Rams’ 20-yard line. Los Angeles also had little problem carving up the Detroit defense but had to settle for field goals once they entered the red zone, which ended up being the difference in the game. The Lions got timely stops, especially when the Rams were threatening and prevented Los Angeles from getting in the end zone in the second half.

Jared Goff Gets Revenge

What a feeling it must be to lead a franchise to its first postseason win in over 30 years against the team that traded you.

That’s exactly what Goff did, leading the Lions against his former team and delivering a postseason win to a city that has waited far too long for the feeling they got to experience Sunday night. Goff had one of the best games of his Lions career, completing 81% of his passes for 277 yards and one touchdown. Most importantly, he took care of the ball. Goff had zero turnovers and made sharp, decisive throws to the likes of St. Brown and former Ram Josh Reynolds, who combined for 12 catches and 190 yards. The game ended with the ball in his hands, leading the Lions on a four-minute drive where they got multiple first downs that ultimately clinched the game for Detroit.

The Rams gave up on Goff. They shipped him to Detroit, where many expected his football journey would come to a sudden end. Through all of the darkness, he shined through and revived his career, leading an irrelevant franchise to new heights while embracing his new city. He etched his name into Detroit and Lions lore with Sunday’s performance.

With the Green Bay Packers defeating the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions will have another home playoff game, hosting the Divisional matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field with a trip to the NFC Championship on the line. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. EST on Sunday.  

Main Image: © Eric Seals / USA TODAY NETWORK

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