The Lions can win without Calvin Johnson
Last season, the Lions were basically doomed if Calvin Johnson was unable to play. The offense didn't have any sense of direction without their most talented player, and moving the ball with any consistency was basically impossible.
On Sunday, however, the Lions put up 24 points and 360 total yards on a very good Jets defense despite Johnson barely doing anything. He did play, but he only had two catches (on two targets) for 12 yards. He was a decoy more than anything, and his ankle injury limited his playing time in a big way.
Despite Johnson not being able to do much, Matthew Stafford had one of his best games. He completed 24 of 34 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and he did an excellent job of spreading the ball around. In addition to the two completions to Johnson, Stafford also completed passes to Golden Tate, Jeremy Ross, Eric Ebron, Ryan Broyles, Reggie Bush, Brandon Pettigrew and Joique Bell. Tate led the pack with eight catches for 116 yards, and Ross had a 59-yard touchdown reception. On Sunday, unlike in the past, Stafford and the Lions showed that even if Johnson isn't able to play an active role in the offense, they can still get the job done.
LaAdrian Waddle really needs to return soon
Yes, I'm repeating this point from last week. I realize I may be beating a dead horse here, but the right tackle situation is just a mess for the Lions. Rotating Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas is not working, as evidenced by the seven quarterback hits and four sacks the Jets had on Sunday. What's more, the Lions only managed to rush for 88 yards on 27 carries (3.3 average). The Jets have a stellar front seven, but LaAdrian Waddle's absence is really making life tough on the offense.
The good news for the Lions is that Waddle at least practiced on a limited basis last week. He was doubtful for the game despite practicing three days in a row, but hopefully that was a sign that he's getting close to returning. For the sake of the run game and Stafford's health, the Lions need him back ASAP, especially with the Buffalo Bills' strong front seven up next.
The Lions have seemingly learned how to finish games
Last season, most of the Lions' losses were seemingly a direct result of an inability to finish close games. So far this year, however, that has not been a problem for the Lions. In all three of their wins this season, they have finished by running out the clock and lining up in the victory formation. There were times on Sunday when it looked like the Lions were going to fail to put away the Jets, but when it mattered most, they managed to grind out a couple key first downs to clinch the win.
Obviously only time will tell if the Lions have truly turned the corner from a finishing standpoint. However, they have shown noticeable improvement in late-game situations with the lead so far this season, and that's extremely encouraging going forward.