The Detroit Lions are back to playing winning football and are back to the .500 mark after a key win against the New York Giants, a victory which could help them get things back on track for the 2019 season.
Detroit led wire to wire in a game which might have been much closer than even the 31-26 score indicated at the end. The Lions got off to a fast start courtesy of their defense, hit a few big plays with their offense and got another efficient day out of Matthew Stafford in order to net the win.
In winning a game they had to, the Lions managed to stay in the hunt in the NFL playoff race. But there are some key lessons from this contest which will reverberate for the rest of the season. Here’s a look at the lessons from Detroit’s third victory of the year.
Discipline Needed Badly
The Lions were the sloppier team during the game, racking up 7 penalties for 75 penalty yards. Worse yet, some of the mistakes happened in key moments to limit the team. Detroit had a costly 15 yard penalty for a chop block, then also had numerous defensive holding and illegal contact penalties that extended New York drives and allowed the Giants to hang in the game. This isn’t winning football even if the Lions win games in which these mistakes occur, and it’s the kind of football that make it appear as if the Lions are a poorly coached team. Detroit has to find a way to limit the mistakes and get some discipline. It’s cost the Lions in games before, and this week, there wasn’t a questionable call or two to hide behind. The Lions have to clean things up in a major way in order to stay on the right track the rest of the season.
The Defense Didn’t Rest
Perhaps the biggest reason the Lions were able to win was their bend but don’t break defense. A few times in this game, the defense broke, but mostly, they were able to turn in big plays in order to keep things going the right way. Devon Kennard’s touchdown set the tone, and the Lions also got key back to back sacks of Daniel Jones, forced Jones to fumble and also got a fourth down stop in order to thwart a potential scoring opportunity. Detroit’s defense did not turn in a winning effort the week before, so it was important to see them make just enough plays and generate just enough stops to help the effort in a positive rather than a negative way.
Matthew Stafford Saved Them
The Lions only won because they were able to get another smooth 3 touchdown day out of their quarterback. In the second half, Stafford was 12-12 for 2 touchdowns and 150 yards, which as was aptly pointed out, was a huge reason the Lions were able to win the game at all. In a season in which the Lions have been up and down, Stafford has been a calming influence for their team in a major way. The Lions have managed to win plenty of big games this season thanks to what their quarterback has done so far.
Lion? Kenny Golladay. Detroit doesn’t win without Golladay’s explosion on the field. His 123 yards and 2 touchdowns were huge for the Lions, and both second half touchdowns helped fuel the win for Detroit. Golladay continues to have the look of a budding star in the NFL, and he did more to help that notion in the game on this day.
Stat to Note: 5, the difference in yardage between the Giants and Lions. Detroit netted 375 yards and New York 370. It was a close game, with the Giants picking up seven more first downs than the Lions did, running six more plays and having one more drive. It was a very even game that the Lions were fortunate to grind out, and it such a close game, discipline can play a huge role. The Lions were lucky to survive as the numbers show.
He Said It: “We had some good points in the game, some bad points in the game but played enough good football to win it. Got a lot to clean up, but it was nice to get a win.” -Matthew Stafford. Afterward, Stafford seemed to confirm to Fox’s Pam Oliver that he wasn’t exactly thrilled with some of the problems the Lions had on the afternoon. Still, as Stafford said, a win is a win, and after the last few weeks, the Lions will certainly take it.