A trap game. A revenge game. Every win in the NFL is hard. Whatever the mindset was to avoid a letdown loss to Carolina worked as Detroit waa locked in for their 42-24 victory against the Carolina Panthers. This is one of those weeks where the teacher is feeling proud and accomplished as they are able to hand out good grade after good grade. There were plenty of winners to go around, but let’s take a look at some key contributors to the victory—along with a few players that weren’t as effective today.
The incumbent secondary tandem of Jerry Jacobs and Will Harris
Of all the shiny new toys added to the Lions’ roster, the secondary seemed to have the biggest improvement. But as recovery times were extended and attrition set in, both Jerry Jacobs and Will Harris have found themselves back in the mix again as starters. Props to both today as they showed out!
The first half of the game set the tone for a successful afternoon and both players were active. Will Harris was energetic, making key stops, and defending the pass well. He had an impressive first-and-goal pass breakup on Jonathan Mingo and huge fumble recovery as well. If you squinted hard enough, you would’ve thought Brian Branch was out there on a few of those plays. Meanwhile, Jerry Jacobs was doing his best C.J. Gardner-Johnson impersonation with another INT today, making it a team leading three on the season thus far. Props to both DBs for a stellar performance.
It looks like Hutch has found his signature move. Not the Michael Jackson kick nor the Stanky Leg… but the spin move. It was a vintage Hutch performance from way back to his rookie year as he not only was active rushing the passer, but also in pass defense as he notched his first interception of the year—setting the record for the most interceptions (4) by a defensive lineman through their first two seasons.
Along with the stats that stand out (3 tackles, 1.0 sack, and 1 interception) he was a constant presence with pressures, run defense and overall activity: another Hutch special. During a week where we went up against one of the league’s best edge defenders in Brian Burns, Aidan Hutchinson looked just as good—if not better.
Jahmyr Gibbs fantasy owners beware, this is Montgomery’s backfield. He opened up the Lions offense on their first drive with a 42-yard touchdown run. But it didn’t stop there as he finished the game with 19 carries for 109 yards and the aforementioned touchdown on the ground—plus a couple of receptions for 20 yards through the air. With Amon Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs out, it was important for our available weapons to step up and Monty did not disappoint. From tough three-yard runs to critical first down gains, he was able to be a huge part in the Lions controlling the tempo all game. Leaving No Man’s Land (aka Chicago) has truly paid off for Montgomery thus far.
It was hard to pick any losers for the game as the team played excellent, but here were a couple of players we will ding for their individual performances.
I hate throwing him in this category as he is giving it his all, playing despite being injured. But there were a few plays, particularly in the third quarter, where I feared for Jared Goff’s life. Healthy or not, lining up against Brian Burns is a chore. Decker overall was solid, but his lack of health showed on a few plays where Burns was close to getting a clean shot at our franchise QB. The last thing we needed from such a beautiful performance was Goff getting injured.
Fortunately, Jared Goff is tough as nails and brushed off any attempted or actual assaults from Burns and company. On a few plays, I was yelling for Decker to just illegally hold in lieu of someone teeing off on Goff. Decker still deserves credit for powering through his injuries, but let’s hope he doesn’t let anyone else get those type of clean hits on our QB going forward.
Surprise! Forgive me Jeremy for going a bit off script here, but hear me out. The Lions didn’t have a perfect game, nor did every player completely avoid bad plays, but was there a case for anyone to be labeled a “Loser” today? Even Taylor Decker’s was a stretch. Add that to the fact I hate Adam Thielen and boom, off script we go.
Since his days with the Vikings, he has cried and whined to the refs on almost every pass attempt, begging for a pass interference call. We saw that several times today. The cherry on top was him celebrating after a touchdown late in the fourth quarter while being down almost 20 points. He might as well been wearing Vikings gear as he is still a loser even outside of the division. He finished the game with however many catches and yards and an “L.”
Let the good times roll. About ten and a half months ago, we were all in the pit of doom after playing Carolina, with our playoff hopes looking bleak. Now, here we are, 4-1, looking like the next division champs. Let’s hope we keep being a team full of winners as we have a lot of season left to be played.