Detroit managed to hold Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes without a touchdown pass on the day, and despite the fact he threw for 315 yards, the defensive game plan was sweltering from the start against the Chiefs. The Lions were down cornerback Darius Slay, but that did not matter in the grand scheme of things, as the players on the field stepped up, scrapped and competed on the way to the near upset performance.
Sanders, who was later asked on NFL Network if the Lions provided the rest of the league a blueprint to knocking off the Chiefs, admitted the game plan might already have been out there, but did take time out to give the Lions a ton of love for what they were able to do on the field Sunday.
“That blueprint may have come from the Pats. You get the correlation. But let me tell you something that Detroit did. They got up in their face. They disrupt timing. They kept Mahomes in the box. They wanted him to throw from there, not get outside the box making things happen with his legs, because when he does that, he’s truly effective,” Sanders said.
Detroit has often found a way to slow down some of the best offensive teams they have faced under the leadership of Matt Patricia. In 2018, the coach knocked off the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers twice. They also put a similar scare into the Los Angeles Rams, a team which would later crack the Super Bowl. This season, the Lions also have wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles to their credit. Neither of those teams are a slouch moving the ball.
Slowing down Kansas City, though, seemed like a daunting proposition coming into the game, especially without Slay. It didn’t end up being much of a problem for the Lions, who threw a variety of different looks at Mahomes including dropping multiple players back in coverage. The result was a lack of constant explosive plays generated by arguably the most powerful offense in the league.
Eventually, the Chiefs broke through, made a few more plays than Detroit and managed to escape with a win. Sanders, though, was still more fired up about what the Lions were able to get done on the defensive side of the ball, especially the guys at his old position on the field.
“These defensive backs for the Detroit Lions. I got to take my hat off for them and let you know, guys, maybe you didn’t win the game but let me tell you something. You flat out balled. And I’m proud of you,” he said.
Sanders also thinks what Detroit managed to pull off in the defensive game plan could be a one time deal.
“I’m pretty sure a lot of teams will try to copy that, but you don’t have the personnel to do such,” he said.