The Detroit Lions’ entire program under Dan Campbell has been called into question at times in 2022, but finally, things look to have turned a corner for the team.
When Campbell was hired, he threw a lot of buzzwords at the wall, such as toughness and physicality. Being able to control a game on the line of scrimmage and with the run was a big hope for the team. Few times the Lions showed that in 2021, but things have turned in a big way.
Against the New York Giants, though, the Lions finally stepped up and showed what Campbell has wanted to see. From the start of the game to the finish, the Lions inflicted multiple body blows on the Giants, who looked like the weaker team mentally and physically.
Detroit’s once-moribund ground game stepped up in a big way. The Lions didn’t need Jared Goff to throw the ball around on a windy field. They simply pushed New York around in the trenches.
The Lions rushed for 160 yards and four touchdowns. Jamaal Williams rumbled for three of those scores, while D’Andre Swift got in for one of his own. Even Justin Jackson managed to get in on the fun with multiple big runs and 66 yards on the day.
When Campbell talked about biting kneecaps, this game was what he meant. Being tougher than the opposition mentally and physically. Finding a way to wear even a solid or elite team down. Refusing to lose, even when momentum doesn’t go your way early on. Bearing down on defense and making big plays in key spots of the game.
Campbell’s team will continue to improve as this as they get more talent. It’s been mentality that has often been the problem for the Lions, but it’s clear the head coach has rubbed off on his roster in a major way. Mentally, they’re showing that they understand, which could be a major boost for the team’s future.
What else was learned from the third successful hunt in a row? Here’s a look at some key takeaways.
Aidan Hutchinson Should Be an Award Winner
All season long, Aidan Hutchinson has changed the game for the Lions, and he hasn’t stopped at all. As a result of this, the
Just when the Lions needed it the most, Hutchinson stepped up with a beautiful interception and some great recognition of a play when the Giants were driving and looking to maintain a lead
Hutchinson dropped back and read the eyes of Daniel Jones, soaring for an interception that helped jump-start the Detroit offense. The recognition on the play was fantastic for a young player.
This play wasn’t it, though. Hutchinson had a clutch fumble recovery, proved that the Lions’ top rookie should be the Rookie of the Year on defense.
It was the kind of winning effort that proves how valuable Hutchinson actually is for the team. He has earned the award already and should continue with the momentum for the team.
Michael Badgley Deserves Major Credit
Once upon a time, the Lions had a kicking issue this season. With a resurgent Michael Badgley, that’s no longer something the team has to worry about.
Badgley, a New Jersey native, looked comfortable kicking in the swirling, wild winds of MetLife Stadium. Badgley had kicked in the stadium early in the season, and seemed to put that experience to use. He was flawless, booting four extra points and also netting a short field goal. On a windy day, that was huge, especially with Graham Gano being erratic on a pair of extra points.
Finally, the Lions seem to have a kicker who has stabilized things for the time being. That’s fantastic news, especially considering how desperate things looked earlier in the season.
Aaron Glenn May Have Saved His Job
In a season where Lions fans were looking for someone to blame for the team’s early struggles, Aaron Glenn often came up as the most obvious scapegoat given the team’s defensive problems.
Interestingly enough, though, Detroit’s defense is suddenly playing a starring role for the team. In the last three wins, the Lions have come up with clutch plays at the end of the game as well as the beginning. They’re getting sacks, stuffing star players and generating major turnovers.
While Glenn deserved some heat, it’s possible Aubrey Pleasant was the biggest problem. Detroit fired him, and the secondary has responded. Glenn has also responded by inspiring his unit to turn in some big days. With this, Glenn may have rescued himself for 2023. As the Lions get more talent, it’s possible that Glenn may indeed look like a better coach.
Lions’ MVP: Jamaal Williams, Running Back
Is it possible that the Lions’ MVP most of the season has been Williams, who is an elite finisher near the goal line. Williams was the sledgehammer again with three scores on the day, and 64 yards.
This game was a Williams special for Detroit. He simply was the tougher, more physical runner for the Lions. His scores were all vital for the Lions, that used them as a springboard to a huge win for the team.
Lions’ Stat of the Game
22, the number of yards that Saquon Barkley had on the day. One of the NFL’s leading. rushers was bottled up effectively by the Detroit defense all day long. It was a huge tribute to the Lions and their once-woeful defense that has been suddenly inspired.
Detroit got after it in the trenches, and managed to make it a frustrating day for Barkley and his offense. It’s been rare to see Detroit’s run defense step up, but they did. As Dan Campbell said, it was a big deal for the team.
“We knew he was the key. We could not let him get going and we did that. That was huge because everything did run through him. That was the main focus of our defense this week and they performed it perfectly,” Campbell said.
Give the team credit for stepping up and gritting out a huge win, led mostly by their work in the trenches against an elite Barkley who looked very pedestrian on this day.
Lions’ Quote to Note
“It always starts with effort. Effort and a couscous effort to go after the football. -Dan Campbell. Naturally, the Lions toughness and effort is showing up, and it was fueled by turnovers. The team generated them, and it shows how motivated they were and how keyed-in they were. Credit to the Lions for getting that done. Campbell admitted that after the game.