The Lions, just 4-7 at the time, found themselves down just 16-13 after three quarters. While their chances of an upset collapsed in the fourth quarter, they had slowed down Jared Goff, the likes of which hadn’t really been seen since Sean McVay took over that offense.
“We felt like if we could make them drive it, make them earn it, similar to what the Lions did,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “Make them run a lot of plays and if we get them in third down, we felt like we could get them off the field.”
Since that Lions-Rams Week 13 contest, Goff hasn’t been the same.
Last week, the Detroit Lions had a similar “moral victory” against the Kansas City Chiefs and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Though Detroit still gave up 34 points to Kansas City (seven came on a defensive score), they held Mahomes out of the end zone for only the second time in his career. Like the Rams game, Detroit couldn’t pull off the win in the end, but they did slow Mahomes in the passing game, allowing him to complete just 57 percent of his passes.
On Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts trounced Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, holding them to only 13 points—by far the lowest of Mahomes’ career. How did they do it? Well, it appears—like the Patriots—the Colts may have taken some inspiration from Detroit.
“They played man coverage, they rushed with four people and they found ways to get pressure and to cover long enough,” Mahomes said after Sunday’s game. “For us, Detroit did it last week, New England did it in the playoffs. We’re going to have to beat man-coverage at the end of the day.”
Now, we don’t have to pretend like man coverage is some sort of super-secret genius plan, and since the Patriots were the first to do it, they certainly deserve credit for laying the groundwork. But this is now twice that the Lions have been partially responsible for inspiring a defensive game plan to slow down one of the most lethal offenses in the league. That has to inspire some confidence in Patricia and his ability to game plan defensively.