Top photos from the Lions blowout win over the Jaguars in Week 13

Check out these top photos from the Lions blowout win over the Jaguars in Week 13

One of the most impressive efforts by the Detroit Lions in a long time had Ford Field rocking in Week 13. The Lions treated the sellout home crowd to a 40-14 blowout victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In reeling off its fourth win in five games, the Lions proved to be the superior team in every phase of Sunday’s game. Offense, defense, special teams, coaching — Detroit won every single battle convincingly.

Here are some of the top photos from Sunday’s awesome Lions win.

Detroit Lions freight train runs all over the Jaguars in a dominating victory

The Lions dominated the Jaguars in every phase of the blowout win at Ford Field in Week 13

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“The soothing light at the end of your tunnel is just a freight train coming your way.”

The Metallica lyric famously used by Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell as a training camp motivational tool proved prophetic in Week 13. Except the Lions were the freight train crashing through the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a polished Campbell engineering one of the most impressive wins of the last decade in Detroit.

The Lions rode the lightning of an explosive, diverse offense and a punishing, well-prepared defense to a completely dominant 40-14 victory over the visiting Jaguars. For a Lions team too used to being the freight train roadkill, this was something special.

The first half was about as well as we’ve seen a Lions team perform in all facets of a regular-season game in a long time. The offense was sizzling. The defense was aware and aggressive. Special teams were strong and mistake-free. From Alex Anzalone scooping up a fumble created by DeShon Elliott on Jacksonville’s first drive, to ex-Jags WR DJ Chark giving his old team fits with his speed, it was the culmination of a fantastic plan of attack and execution by Dan Campbell’s Lions. No punts, no penalties, no giveaways.

Given the history of Detroit football, it was still tough to trust the impressive play would persist after halftime. Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence shaking off what could have been a nasty knee injury when sacked by Lions rookie James Houston on the final play of the first half was something that could inspire a frenetic comeback from a regrouped Jaguars team after the half.

Lawrence did lead the Jaguars on a nice opening drive, culminating in a touchdown that cut the Detroit lead to 30-14. The Lions shrugged off the threat, answering with a long scoring drive capped by a confident Michael Badgley field goal. When Alex Anzalone expertly destroyed the Jaguars’ third-down attempt on the ensuing drive, any worries about this being the “same old Lions” went down as fast as the opening guitar riff of Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning.”

Detroit never relented, not in this one. Nor did they punt, or turn the ball over. Jared Goff threw for 340 yards and two TDs, both to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions only registered two sacks of Lawrence but consistently pressured him, thanks in part to excellent coverage from both the secondary and the linebacking corps. Detroit netted 31 first downs and held the Jaguars to just 14.

The Lions are now 5-7, winners of four of their last five games.

Lions inactives vs Jaguars in Week 13: The return of the healthy scratch

Detroit Lions inactive players vs the Jaguars in Week 13: The return of the healthy scratch

It’s been a long and arduous season on the injury front for the Detroit Lions in 2022. The injury bug has bitten Detroit with undue virulence.

But in Week 13, the Lions are finally getting healthy. Heck, they even added two new players off reserve lists, WR Jameson Williams and DE Romeo Okwara, though only Williams will play on Sunday. Only two players were ruled out due to injury, and one of those–DE Julian Okwara–was placed on IR on Saturday.

That means head coach Dan Campbell is forced into the uncommon situation of having to declare healthy scratches for Sunday’s game.

Only RG Evan Brown will sit against Jacksonville due to injury. The rest of the inactives are all healthy scratches:

  • RG Evan Brown
  • DE Michael Brockers
  • CB Amani Oruwariye
  • OL Logan Stenberg
  • DE Romeo Okwara
  • WR Tom Kennedy

The Lions did promote practice squad center Ross Pierschbacher as the backup center for Frank Ragnow.

 

Dan Campbell, Jared Goff have no regrets about the controversial late 3rd down call

Campbell and Goff both defended the play call with Goff acknowledging he needed to make a better throw

In a Thanksgiving game featuring many critical plays and decisions, there is one Detroit Lions offensive call that stood out as the biggest play of the game.

The scene: 3rd-and-1 from the Buffalo Bills’ 33-yard line with 32 seconds left on the game clock. Buffalo leads by three points. The Lions had just lost a potential first-down conversion to an official review reversing the spot of the ball on an Amon-Ra St. Brown reception.

The play call: Jared Goff gets an iso look on the right outside with speedy WR DJ Chark in one-on-one coverage and decides that’s the best option. Chark gets open over the top but Goff misses him badly. Now it’s fourth down and the clock is dead, giving MVP candidate Josh Allen and the Bills offense over 20 seconds to answer Michael Badgley’s game-tying field goal — a kick that barely squeaked inside the right upright.

Allen proved why he’s an MVP candidate in quickly leading the Bills down the field for what proved to be the game-winning field goal.

After the game, Campbell was asked if he regretted the call, and also if he would have considered going for it on fourth down.

“Could have done that. Certainly could have done that,” Campbell stated.  “No, we like the play call. Didn’t work out; kicked the field goal.”

It’s a very similar call and play to what Campbell drew up in Week 8 against the Dolphins in almost the exact same situation. Goff missed Josh Reynolds down the left sideline in that one, another throw that wasn’t even close to being completed. In Week 3, Goff and Chark weren’t even close to connecting on the exact same play call, just to the left side of the formation.

It’s a very similar play and route to one Goff attempted earlier in this game against Buffalo, a throw where he badly overshot Kalif Raymond. In short, it’s not a play with much chance of success based on the Lions personnel on the field.

That didn’t dissuade Campbell, who acknowledged, “Chark, I’m not
sure if he really ever saw it until it was real late. I just don’t think he saw it. So, obviously they weren’t on the same page.”

It’s an aggressive call, a high-risk/reward decision to try and win a game the Lions weren’t supposed to against one of the NFL’s best teams. If that play hits, Detroit absolutely doesn’t lose the game in regulation. The Lions either score a touchdown on that play, get 2-3 red zone shots to score a touchdown or kick a short field goal as time expires.

But it didn’t work, and the Lions lost.

For his part, Goff admitted he made a poor throw. The veteran QB liked the call and the opportunity.

“I wish I had thrown a different ball,” Goff said after the game. “I thought the play-call was great and had some options what to do there, and yeah, if you had to do it again, do you do something differently? I don’t know, maybe, but if I throw a better ball, it might not matter. But yeah, unfortunately, that’s going to be the play that gets focused on, but there’s a lot of plays that could have gone either way today as well.”

Goff is right on both counts. If he proves capable of making what should be an expected NFL thrown, one he keeps missing, it’s a great call. And there were many other plays that also swung the outcome. Detroit’s defense was in absentia on Allen’s final drive. There were several pivot points throughout the game. But everyone will focus on Goff’s failure on the last critical play for the Lions offense.

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Quick takeaways from the Lions loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving

Here are a few quick takeaways from watching the Lions loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving

The Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills treated a sellout crowd in Ford Field and a national television audience to an entertaining and highly competitive game to kick off Thanksgiving. The Lions took the heavily favored Bills down to the wire but ultimately fell short in a 28-25 loss.

The undermanned Lions had their chances. Dan Campbell’s team largely punched above its weight class, but they weren’t quite sharp enough to score the upset knockout. It’s both a very frustrating end to the three-game win streak but also an indication that the Lions are quickly improving into a team that should be taken seriously.

Here are a few quick takeaways from watching the game in real-time.

 

Lions rookie report: James Houston has a great day in first NFL game

Lions rookie report: DE James Houston has a great day in his first NFL game

In a nail-biting Thanksgiving Day loss, the Detroit Lions put in their best effort against the Buffalo Bills.

Despite the loss, there was a lot to like about the Lions’ performance. The most notable player of the game was an unlikely one: sixth-round pick James Houston, who was elevated from the practice squad just two days ago.

Houston was drafted by Detroit after impressing at Jackson State as a pass rusher. He was used in multiple roles throughout training camp and the preseason, getting time with both the linebackers and defensive linemen throughout practice. He was waived as the team trimmed the roster down to 53 but was brought back to the practice squad immediately after.

In his first career NFL game, Houston showed up in a big way. His first notable play of the day was a fumble recovery after Detroit’s punt returner Kalif Raymond lost the ball in the first quarter. The heads-up play by Houston on special teams kept the drive alive and the Lions were able to capitalize on it.

He then showed off the pass rush skills that got him drafted. Houston took his first defensive snap at the end of the first half and managed to beat the Bills’ offensive line and get to Josh Allen for a sack on a third-and-10.

In the second half, he did it again on third down. Houston shook off two blocks and managed to take Allen down by his ankles to force a Buffalo punt.

Houston is still a member of Detroit’s practice squad, but that shouldn’t be the case for much longer.

Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez also had a decent game, especially compared to how he did last Sunday. He defended two passes, one of which was tipped and intercepted by teammate Alex Anzalone. He finished the day with six tackles, one of which went for a loss of yardage.

Safety Kerby Joseph’s stats tell a different story than the quality of his play. The secondary was ravaged by injuries, which made things that much harder for the rookie free safety when defending against Josh Allen and his talented receiving corps. Joseph had six tackles, but many came after getting beat in coverage. He is a talented young player with plenty of potential, but he couldn’t keep up with Buffalo’s offense.

First-round pick Aidan Hutchinson was a non-factor all day. He did not record a stat on defense, but did help apply some pressure on Allen.

Tight end James Mitchell was not used much, but did produce a 22-yard catch-and-run that kept a drive going for Detroit.

Seventh-round cornerback Chase Lucas played in his first game in weeks and recorded one tackle on special teams.

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Lions prove they belong but can’t quite beat the Bills on Thanksgiving

The Lions came close but fell short in a 28-25 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving provided the first exposure of the 2022 Detroit Lions for most of the national football audience. Playing against AFC darling Buffalo, the Lions were decided underdogs despite winning three games in a row.

The Lions went toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s top teams. They looked like they belonged. More than that, Dan Campbell’s Lions acted like they belonged. Alas, a good effort came up short with the Bills winning 28-25 on a game-ending field goal from Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass with under five seconds remaining.

Detroit played well, but not quite well enough to win. A handful of crippling mistakes proved just a little too costly for the Lions. A missed field goal, a safety on Jared Goff, a Jamaal Williams fumble, a D’Andre Swift drop in the red zone — the self-inflicted wounds cut just a little too deep.

The Lions don’t quite have the level of talent or margin for error to make so many errors and beat a team like the Bills. They are closing that gap quickly, but it wasn’t quite there on Thanksgiving.

The game was back-and-forth all day. Detroit’s defense largely contained the Bills aerial attack for most of the game. Big plays from Alex Anzalone, James Houston and Jerry Jacobs provided real defensive lifts from unexpected sources. Jamaal Williams and Amon-Ra St. Brown played like the Pro Bowlers they deserve to be.

Detroit had one last chance to seize a potential victory, but a last-minute drive with some questionable clock management and play-calling stalled. Michael Badgley uncomfortably made a game-tying field goal, but 23 seconds still stood on the clock.

That was enough for MVP candidate Josh Allen to quickly move the Bills into field goal range, and Bass delivered.

With the tough loss, the Lions fall to 4-7. Buffalo improves to 8-4. The Lions now get an extended break before hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars a week from Sunday.

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Fans did not like the Thanksgiving halftime show at Ford Field

Fans did not like the Thanksgiving halftime show at Ford Field

The first half of action between the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving was fun and crowd-pleasing. Then came the halftime show…

The performance by Bebe Rexha inside Ford Field was not well-received. Not by the fans in the stadium, who got to watch the backside of a stage concealed in a corner of the end zone with the performance strictly for television.

The television audience wasn’t exactly thrilled with the performance production either. Social media reaction to the halftime show was not positive. A small but representative sampling from Twitter:

 

https://twitter.com/KoryEWoods/status/1595857077242630144?s=20&t=oUTObTRV14idYBBvTgalxw

Lions inactive players for Week 12 includes just one healthy scratch

Lions inactive players for Week 12 includes just one healthy scratch

The Detroit Lions revealed their inactive players for the Thanksgiving matinee against the Buffalo Bills. With five players ruled out on the short week due to injuries, there wasn’t a great deal of suspense.

The quintet of injured Lions who were ruled out on the final injury report:

  • CB Jeff Okudah
  • LG Jonah Jackson
  • RG Evan Brown
  • DE Charles Harris
  • DE Josh Paschal

Detroit promoted C Ross Pierschbacher and DE James Houston from the practice squad to help manage the injury attrition.

The only healthy scratch is veteran DL Michael Brockers. He’s been in that status for most of the last month, though Brockers did play in Week 11.

That means wide receiver Josh Reynolds is active for the game. Reynolds was listed as questionable on the final injury report.

Last-minute thoughts and prediction for the Lions vs. Bills

Last-minute thoughts and prediction for the Lions vs. Bills

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first and only time all season, the Detroit Lions draw a national television audience for the traditional turkey day kickoff. Hosting the Buffalo Bills, the NFL’s top team in point differential, is no easy task for Dan Campbell’s Lions.

Here are a few of the things running through my head a couple of hours before the game.

I think

–The injuries to the interior offensive line are a very bad development for the Lions. Hank Fraley is a great developer of young OL talent, but he’s got his work cut out for him on a short week with no actual practices.

–Amon-Ra St. Brown should be in for a big game. Having DJ Chark to stretch the field and occupy the (very good) Bills safeties should open up room for St. Brown to catch nine passes for 96 yards.

–We could see a D’Andre Swift revitalization against Buffalo. Swift finished the Giants game on a positive note and he’s got a shot at poking his head a lot farther out of RB coach Duce Staley’s doghouse with a good performance against Buffalo.

–It’s going to be a rough game for the Lions safeties, Kerby Joseph and DeShon Elliott. They’ve both been playing well; Joseph is quickly proving to be an impact talent in the passing game. But the Bills offense with Josh Allen as a running threat and the vertical receiving options in Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and even TE Dawson Knox are a different type of threat than the Lions have seen. It doesn’t mean they’re bad players; it means it’s a very difficult task.

–The Lions special teams will need to make a big play or two to help tip the scales. Coordinator Dave Fipp’s units have been pretty sharp lately, but Detroit cannot afford a shank punt like last week’s from Jack Fox or an off-target snap from long snapper Scott Daly.

–Aidan Hutchinson will have another strong game where he makes a couple of impactful plays. And the national audience will love it.

–Jared Goff will need to have his best game of the season for the Lions to win. Doing that with two new guards against a very talented Bills defense is asking a lot.

I know

–Campbell’s team will not be intimidated or in awe of the Bills. And that gives them a chance even as 9.5-point underdogs.

–Ford Field will be rocking and that’s going to make an impact on the game, at least early on.

I predict

–The Lions fight hard early on but ultimately succumb to a more talented, experienced, well-coached Bills team. Buffalo just has too many paths to victory and isn’t picky about how they do it. This is the best team the Lions will see for the rest of the season and the Bills will prove it.

Buffalo 30, Detroit 16