Lions’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson Goes Viral With Celebration After Win Over Chiefs

C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Getty Detroit Lions defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson delivered a message to the rest of the NFL after the Lions defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.

The hype is real. That’s essentially what Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson said after his team defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 21-20, in the NFL’s season opener on September 7.

Only Gardner-Johnson said it a lot more colorfully.

“This is not a mother******* fire drill,” Gardner-Johnson said in a live social media video after the game. “This is the real thing. This s*** is the real thing.”

Gardner-Johnson began his live video by repeating several times that, “It’s not the same … It’s not the same Detroit.”

NFL reporter Dov Kleiman, who credited Kettle Finance with providing a recording of the video, reposted the video on his Twitter account. In about two hours after the game ended, Kleiman’s reposted video received more than 400,000 views.

Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson Plays Well in Lions Debut

The veteran defensive back has a reputation as a talker. Clearly, he lived up to that reputation after playing his first game with the Lions.

But it’s easy to see why Gardner-Johnson was excited. He played well and helped the Lions defeat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road.

Gardner-Johnson finished with 5 solo tackles and 2 pass defenses, both of which were team highs.

One of his pass defenses could have been an interception and essentially ended the game with just a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Instead, the pass deflected off the veteran’s hands. The Chiefs had one more chance on fourth down.

The Lions, though, knocked down quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ next pass on fourth-and-25 (after a false start penalty) to end the game.

Gardner-Johnson had a terrific season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. He was tied for the NFL lead with 6 interceptions. He also had 8 pass defenses with 5 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits and 1 sack.

He’s off to a fast start in Detroit.

Lions Secondary Stifles Chiefs Passing Attack

Gardner-Johnson was one of several changes Detroit made to its secondary during the offseason. The Lions also signed cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley.

Finally, Detroit drafted defensive back Brian Branch in the second round of the 2023 NFL draft.

Still recovering from an ACL tear, Moseley didn’t play in Week 1. But Gardner-Johnson played well. So did Branch, who brought in a deflected pass with one hand for an interception and returned it for a touchdown.

Branch’s pick-six, which came in the third quarter, tied the game again at 14. It completely changed the complexion of the second half.

The struggles of the Chiefs receivers helped Detroit’s defense. Receiver Kadarius Toney failed to catch a perfect Mahomes pass, and instead deflected the ball to Branch for the interception. In tight end Travis Kelce’s absence, the Chiefs didn’t have a receiver reach 50 yards.

But the Lions secondary looked much improved in its first big test of the season. Detroit held Mahomes to a 53.8% completion percentage and 5.8 yards per attempt.

Nearly half of Mahomes’ 226 passing yards came on four completions. His other 35 attempts resulted in 117 yards.

Not bad for a unit that finished 30th in passing yards allowed during 2022.

One of the biggest blemishes for Detroit’s secondary on opening night was a pass interference penalty from Sutton. He bumped into Justin Watson on a deep pass late in the third quarter. The play resulted in a 41-yard penalty.

But with improved secondary play, the Lions have a great chance to prove Gardner-Johnson’s assertion correct — that Detroit is a real contender for the first time in several years.

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