The Lions offense was absolutely on fire all day, and managed to always stay one step ahead of Los Angeles, despite the fact that the Chargers scored touchdowns on five consecutive touchdowns.
It was a tough look for the Lions defense, but it also just goes to show you how electric this offense is right now. The Lions had monster games from David Montgomery (116 yards, 1 TD), Jahmyr Gibbs (77 yards, 2 TDs) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (156 yards, 1 TD). Of course, Goff was the orchestrator of it all, finishing with 333 yards and two touchdowns for a 122.4 passer rating.
With the win, the Lions move to 7-2 and stay 1.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC North lead.
Here’s how it happened.
The Lions won the toss and deferred, giving the Chargers offense a chance first. However, they wouldn’t stay on the field long as Detroit’s defense got a quick three-and-out.
Detroit wouldn’t take long to get on the board. Jared Goff found Amon-Ra St. Brown deep for 46 yards, immediately putting Detroit in the red zone.
Jameson Williams scored a 10-yard touchdown but it was nullified by a low block on Taylor Decker—a questionable call, at best. Detroit would have to settled for a short field goal and an early 3-0 Lions lead.
The Chargers struck back. A 24-yard screen to Austin Ekeler drove Los Angeles into Lions territory. But on a third-and-2, Justin Herbert couldn’t find Ekeler again and Cameron Dicker tied the game with a 48-yard field goal 3-3 tie.
Detroit got moving again. After an 8-yard pass to St. Brown the Lions went right back to him and picked up a 16-yard pass interference call. Then it was all Jahmyr Gibbs: 5 yard run, 11-yard run, 35-yard run, 1-yard touchdown run. 10-3 Lions.
The Lions offense quickly got the ball back. An Alex Anzalone blitz put Justin Herbert under pressure and the young quarterback just threw the ball away. However, Kerby Joseph somehow managed to get under it and toe-tap in bounds for the interception.
The Lions moved the ball back into the red zone with a pair of fourth down conversions, including a GUTSY draw play on fourth-and-5 that picked up just enough to keep the sticks moving. An end around to St. Brown picked up another fourth-and-short and that set up the Lions first-and-goal as the first quarter ended.
After David Montgomery was stuffed twice at the goal line, the Lions opted to go for it on fourth down a third time. Unfortunately, this time pressure got to Goff and he was forced to throw it away.
Backed up in their own zone, the Chargers couldn’t manage to move the sticks a single time. Ekeler dropped another pass after pressure from Aidan Hutchinson forced a checkdown on third-and-1. A punt would set the Lions up at their own 40-yard line.
A 24-yard screen to Gibbs moved the Lions into Chargers territory and 13 yards from Jameson Williams got near the red zone. Then Goff threw an absolute laser between three defenders to St. Brown to set Detroit up in the red zone for the fourth time. This time, the Lions wouldn’t squander the opportunity, as Gibbs plowed his way in on fourth-and-goal to make it 17-3 Lions.
On the ensuing drive, Ekeler made a nice move to make Alex Anzalone miss on a third-and-5 to avoid another Chargers three-and-out. Keenan Allen kept the chains moving with a third-and-7 catch all the way down to Detroit’s 40-yard line. A few plays later, Allen beat Jerry Jacobs on a post route for a 29-yard touchdown. 17-10 Lions.
The Lions would answer back with one of the most impressive runs of David Montgomery’s career. He found a huge hole in the line and that had a cutback that absolutely put a Chargers defender in a turnstile. In the end, Montgomery scampered to a 75-yard touchdown. 24-10 Lions.
With over three minutes left, the Chargers had plenty of time to cut back into the lead, and that’s exactly what they did. On a key third-and-3, Herbert found Allen again for a 28-yard gain into the Lions’ red zone. Detroit would get the Chargers into a fourth-and-1 situation, but Ekeler pounded his way in from 2-yards to make it 24-17 Lions with just 23 seconds left in the half.
The Lions said during the bye week one of their focuses was to eliminate slow starts in the second half. It doesn’t look like they fixed it, as the Lions’ opening drive was about to go three-and-out before a personal foul penalty on the Chargers kept the drive alive. But the Lions wouldn’t do much with the gift. Though they would get inside the 35-yard line, a negative run play put them behind the sticks and eventually the Lions opted to punt rather than try a 55-yard field goal. Jack Fox would pin the Chargers at their own 8-yard line.
A pass interference on Jerry Jacobs quickly got the Chargers out of the shadow of their own end zone to their own 29-yard line. A pass to Donald Parham Jr. got them to midfield as their no-huddle offense continued to chip away at Detroit’s defense. Allen was the main culprit, converting both a third-and-8 and a third-and-3 to get LA into the red zone.
LA would cap the drive with an 18-yard strike to Jalen Guyton with Kerby Joseph just a second too late. 24-24 tie.
The Lions answered with their own WR weapon. St. Brown picked up 33 on third-and-2 to put the Lions into the red zone. And on the next play, he took a WR screen to the house for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-24 Lions lead.
The shootout continued as Herbert picked up a key third-and-5 with a scramble for 13, keeping the drive alive. The Chargers converted on a third-and-11 via a pass interference on Cam Sutton. Then under pressure from Hutchison, Herbert made an incredible play off his back foot, finding Quentin Johnston for a 17-yard gain down to the Lions’ 8-yard line... as we moved into the final quarter.
The Chargers faced a critical fourth-and-goal, and while it looked like the Lions got a stop initially, the refs called a weak pass interference on Sutton for a fresh set of downs at the 1-yard line. You be the judge:
Sutton called for the PI pic.twitter.com/tgxpCkTJl5— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthew_CFB) November 12, 2023
Though it took the Chargers four more tries, they eventually got in on a play-action pass to a wide open Johnston. 31-31 tie.
Lions rookies helped drive into Chargers territory. First, Gibbs picked up 14 on a pass, then on a third-and-2, Sam LaPorta picked up 19. Then on third-and-1, Goff laid a perfect pass on a nice play-action fake to the waiting arms of Brock Wright. 38-31 Lions.
But the Chargers would not go away. With 7:30 left, LA went right back to work, picking apart the Lions defense. Detroit had a key opportunity to get a stop on a fourth-and-1, but the Chargers fooled the Lions completely and got Allen wide open for a 38-yard touchdown, tying the game with 3:34 left. 38-38 tie.
The Lions hit on a huge play on the very first drive, with a play-action pass to Kalif Raymond for 41 yards. The Lions faced a second-and-9 at the Chargers 35-yard line at the two minute warning.
Detroit found themselves in a fourth-and-2 at the Chargers 26-yard line. Instead of attempting a 44-yard field goal, the Lions went for it and CONVERTED to LaPorta.
The Lions were able to bleed the rest of the clock and put the game on the line for kicker Riley Patterson for a 41-yard field goal to win it. Patterson nailed it for the 41-38 Lions win.