The Detroit Lions are an incredibly fun football team right now. Better yet, they’re a good football team right now. Both of those qualities were on display Sunday afternoon as the Lions were looking to put away the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings late in the game.
With the Vikings needing a third-down stop to get the ball back down eight points with two minutes remaining, the Lions dialed up an aggressive trick play to get the conversion and ice the game.
Right tackle Penei Sewell was announced as an eligible receiver. Initially, Sewell was lined up wide left, but Jared Goff sent him in pre-snap motion to the right. In other situations like this, Sewell had served as a lead blocker on a run play. But on this occasion, Sewell ran a route into the flat, and Goff hit him in stride. Sewell made both an athletic catch on the play, and turned upfield to get the necessary yards for a first down. If you somehow missed it, check it out again.
Not only was that a great play call that had the Vikings scrambling, but it’s also had to be a ton of fun for Sewell—and everyone else on the team—to see the big man come down with the catch and game-sealing play.
So here’s what Lions coach Dan Campbell and various players had to say after the game about that play:
“That was part of a package we were going to have that we could use in the red zone, if needed. It felt like that was the right time to bring it out. We had good practice reps with it. We used him earlier in that fast motion. And so we felt really good about it being there, because when you see him coming, you’re not going to think he’s going to the flat. He’s going to block you one more time like he did before.”
“We know what kind of athlete he is. He’s a phenomenal athlete. Who knows what kind of tackle he’s going to be? I think a pretty dang good one. He already is, but he could be a Hall of Fame tight end, in my opinion too, if he wanted to lose a little bit of weight.”
“We do it in practice quite a bit, but it doesn’t often get called. I think that was kinda the perfect scenario for it.”
“We’ve won every game that they’ve (offensive linemen) caught balls on Fridays, because we didn’t do it the Thursday game. We didn’t have time. Yeah, we joked about that, but yeah, we’ll continue to do that. Penei’s got pretty good hands.”
“I mean, I didn’t miss that one. I didn’t think they were actually going to throw it. Man, that was a hell of a cath. Got the first down. Sealed the game. It was great.”
Well, you can just watch his reaction to being asked about the play-call (and the fake punt call):
Penei Sewell on Dan Campbell: “Dude’s got some nuts on him, bro. Like, it’s as simple as that.” pic.twitter.com/3YEZI9x4nb— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) December 11, 2022
On if he had practiced his first-down catch before: “No, I was going to shoutout to my parents and God for that one, to be honest.
On if he had a little swag catching the ball: “You see it. You see it. Everybody go check out the tape. Give a little swag at the end, but yeah.”
“J.G. really threw him a real, legit ball. He caught that. He’s an athlete, and I’m happy, because one of the things that we have struggled with is that four-minute, putting-the-game-away (drive). That was big for us.”