Are your fingernails intact after that one?
It was a nail-biter in Week 10 between the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Chargers. After the Lions dominated the opening minutes, the Chargers stormed back and kept the score close all game. Back and forth the touchdowns went, anthe d defense was merely a suggestion as the offenses took center stage. When the clock hit zero, it was Detroit emerging victorious thanks to a Riley Patterson game-winning field goal.
Just how we drew it up.
The Lions are now 7-2 and in the driver's seat for a playoff push. What takeaways can be had from this victory?
Gibbs and Montgomery bring the thunder and lightning
There was some doubt about how Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery would coexist in the backfield. Montgomery was the workhorse of the offense to start the season, while Gibbs had broken out in his absence. Now with both backs healthy and available, how would the touches be split?
The answer is pretty evenly—and pretty well. The duo combined for 193 yards on 12/14 split between Montgomery and Gibbs, respectively. Montgomery broke off an incredible 75-yarder, yet another long touchdown run of his that was aided by a phenomenal block by Jameson Williams. Gibbs singlehandedly led the Lions’ first touchdown drive, demonstrating his usual burst and elusiveness but also some short-yardage finesse.
Coupled with excellent blocking from the offensive line, there’s no question that both backs will be featured heavily down the stretch—and given the results on Sunday, for good reason.
Trouble with thirds
The number three might be disliked in Detroit before long (sorry, Jack Fox). The third quarter has been aptly nicknamed the Turd Quarter for how poorly the Lions have played this season, and Sunday was no different. The Lions opened the half with a lifeless drive on offense, following it up with an equally lifeless defensive drive as the Chargers marched 92 yards for a touchdown. The Lions did manage to score a touchdown before the quarter elapsed, but it was largely a one-man effort by Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The Lions were an ugly 4-for-13 on third down against the Chargers, and it forced a whopping five fourth-down attempts (four of which were converted). Forcing themselves into do-or-die situations is far from ideal, and there were a few clutch fourth downs away from blowing excellent field position, points, and the win.
The one and only Sun God
We all knew that Amon-Ra St. Brown was a focal point of the passing attack, but he was the only focal point on Sunday.
St. Brown racked up his fourth-straight 100-yard game, hitting a career-high 156 yards and one touchdown. He was cooking the Chargers secondary on a day when nobody else in the Lions arsenal stood out as a pass catcher. Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds, and Kalif Raymond combined for 79 yards on 6 catches, most of which came on Raymond’s 41-yarder late in the fourth. It is worth noting that Williams had a touchdown called back on a ticky-tack penalty. Rookies Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs were modest as pass catchers as well, though the latter had a stellar game on the ground and the former had a critical fourth down conversion.
No answer for Allen
For a good chunk of the game, the Chargers offense lived and died by Keenan Allen. The Chargers were missing Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer entering the day, meaning the veteran was the lone reliable threat for the Chargers. Yet despite the obvious game plan surrounding him, he constantly eluded the Lions secondary. Allen was seemingly open on every play with no Lions defender even close to challenging the reception. On a crucial fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter, it was Keenan Allen left wide open for a game-tying touchdown. How does that happen?
The Lions have been burnt by giving too large of bubbles to opposing receivers (see the Baltimore Ravens game), and it was an issue again on Sunday. The only thing stopping Allen was himself, as he exited the game with a shoulder injury before returning to score the aforementioned touchdown.
The Chargers have not had a strong fanbase since their move to Los Angeles, despite being a team with some exciting pieces. The Lions fandom took advantage of it on Sunday and created a fairly hostile environment for the Chargers. Though the Chargers offense only had one false start penalty, the noise was evident on the broadcast and in the stadium.
The Lions have traveled extremely well this season, including takeovers of Lambeau Field and Arrowhead Stadium, and the fans deserve credit for representing a franchise that was once struggling.
John’s Turning Point: Sam LaPorta’s fourth down conversion in the fourth quarter
This game was such a roller coaster that the turning point came in the dying seconds. With the Lions going for it on fourth-and-2 with 1:47 remaining in the game, the game was in the balance. The Lions defense was nonexistent in the second half, and a failed conversion here would have given the Chargers a prime opportunity to march down the field for game-winning points. Yet, with the Lions outside of field goal range, they had no choice but to go for it.
LaPorta had a quiet game against the Chargers (relative to his standards), but his grab on fourth down wound up sealing the game for the Lions. That’s clutch.