2017 called, they want their Detroit Lions back. Well, that’s what it felt like, at least. Late-game heroics from the offense in a fourth quarter thriller that, thankfully, ended with the Lions on top were unlike anything we’ve seen since the Matthew Stafford era. The major exception being that the Lions got lots of help from the run game. Here are your movers for the week:
Stock up: Jared Goff, QB
Stats: 23-of-33, 333 yards, 2 TD
Goff was dealing Sunday. He posted his second-highest passing yardage of the season with 333 yards, despite tying for his third-fewest attempts with just 33. He averaged 10.1 yards per attempt, his highest mark as a Lion and his most since October of 2020 as a Los Angeles Ram. Goff was patient and accurate, especially when faced with pressure, and it led to his star receiver having a career day.
The Lions had very little margin for error Sunday. Coming off back-to-back games with interceptions, not only did Goff keep the ball safe, but he dealt it with conviction all afternoon to his receivers.
Stock up: Scottie Montgomery, Running Backs Coach
Scottie Montgomery has got to feel like Midas right now. Every running back he works with is turning to gold. David Montgomery is on pace to post his second-best statistical season of his career, which is a lot more impressive once you realize the Lions have another running back who’s matching him yard for yard in production.
Speaking of that running back, Jahmyr Gibbs is coming to life, in case you’ve been under a rock for the past month. He’s on pace to average the third-most scrimmage yards per game from a Lions running back in franchise history, and quickly closing in on number two, whose name may ring a bell: Barry Sanders.
Heck, even Craig Reynolds is getting in on the action! He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry, most of which has come when defenses are loading the box expecting a run, and Reynolds found the end zone last month for the first time in his five-year NFL career.
Are you seeing the pattern that I’m seeing? Montgomery is squeezing every ounce of talent out of his guys, and the Detroit Lions needed every last bit of it to pull off the win today. Consider this a stock up for Montgomery, Montgomery, and Gibbs today.
Stock up: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR
Stats: 8 receptions. 156 yards, 1 TD; 2 carries, 9 yards
It’s crazy to think that a guy who put up triple-digit receiving yards while playing on blistered feet can be better, but we learned that it’s possible Sunday. Amon-Ra St. Brown had his way with the Chargers defense from start to finish, posting a career-high day with 156 receiving yards. I’m gonna go ahead and give myself a stock up, too, since I called it in this week’s bold prediction.
The fact that St. Brown managed to do so on below-average targets, too, is even more impressive. St. Brown connected with Jared Goff on eight of his nine targets. The man simply didn’t miss on Sunday.
Stock up: Jerry Jacobs, CB
Stats: 2 tackles, 2 passes defended
Jerry Jacobs started off the season a bit slow, but since the Atlanta Falcons came to town he has turned things around mightily. Sunday might have been his best performance of the season, playing textbook coverage on several passes like this one:
He did allow a long touchdown, but it came on an impeccable throw that few quarterbacks other than Justin Herbert are making. Overall, it was a good day for Jacobs and the seatbelt gang.
Stock up: Kerby Joseph, S
Stats: 7 tackles, 1 pass defended
Kerby Joseph did not surprise anyone Sunday. He did what we all know Kerby Joseph was capable of. After emerging in the middle of 2022, he aged like a fine wine throughout the season and closed his rookie campaign with two interceptions of Aaron Rodgers. This year, he started off quiet and is quickly picking up steam again, much akin to his rookie year. He now has interceptions in each of the last two games, and it couldn’t come at a better time for a struggling Lions defense.
Stock down: Aaron Glenn, Defensive Coordinator
This is starting to feel repetitive. The Lions defense puts on a show against mediocre quarterbacks, but gets picked apart the moment an opposing quarterback shows an ounce of competence. It’s not a good look.
Keenan Allen had eight receptions for 113 yards and touchdown. At halftime. Surely that’s not all to be blamed on Glenn, but this started from the first drive of the game and continued without adjustment. At no point did it seem like Allen was double-teamed. Instead, we were well into Sunday’s game watching him picking apart zone coverages to end up matched up against the likes of Alex Anzalone.
The second half wasn’t much different, as Allen would put up another 62 yards and a touchdown despite missing time with an injury. The problem continued well into the fourth quarter:
Lions ate all of that play-action fake on fourth down. Keenan Allen all alone downfield for the 38-yard game-tying touchdown.— Ben Raven (@BenjaminSRaven) November 12, 2023
That's right. No. 13. All Alone. Fourth down in the fourth quarter.
It’s not like the Chargers were super stacked, either. The Chargers were already without their number two and number three receivers. The game plan didn’t have much choice other than to be focused on Allen and running back Austin Ekeler. Instead, the two combined for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
The excuses are running very thin. You can’t say the Lions need more talent on defense. The defense is anchored by cornerstone players like Aidan Hutchinson and Kerby Joseph; you’ve shelled out in free agency for your secondary; you’ve spent several Day 2 picks on interior defensive linemen. The Lions already parted ways with Aubrey Pleasant, so a secondary coach isn’t to blame. At some point, the buck stops with Glenn to not let his pass defense turn to Swiss cheese every time a formidable quarterback comes to town.
I said it last year and I’ll say it again: If Ben Johnson weren’t orchestrating masterful performances to carry this team week in and week out, we’d be talking about Glenn very differently.
Ben Johnson, OC: Johnson got too cute against the Raiders. The bye week seems to have gotten him back on his game, and the Lions needed every bit of it Sunday.
Brock Wright, TE: There’s a name we haven’t heard in a while. Wright came up huge late in the game, as is becoming his forté, and it clearly meant a lot to him after the game.
Jameson Williams, WR: Williams didn’t have a huge day in the receiving game, but he did what he was asked to do. More importantly, he used his speed to spring a crucial block on David Montgomery’s 75-yard touchdown run.
Derrick Barnes, LB: Barnes found himself in run-heavy packages at the goal line where the Chargers shifted into pass plays. Barnes held his own well in coverage against Gerald Everett, which is no easy task in the red zone.
Malcolm Rodriguez, LB: Rodriguez is well on the Jason Cabinda career arc, stepping up again at fullback Sunday. Props to him for doing what’s needed for the team win.
Jake McQuaide, LS: McQuaide isn’t the step-long snapper, he’s the long snapper who stepped up. Props to him for coming in and delivering Sunday, especially on a game-winning field goal.
Alim McNeill, DT: McNeill didn’t do anything wrong Sunday, but if we heave praise on him for his flashy games, it’s only fair to call out the inconsistency. Sunday was another game where the explosive, disruptive Alim McNeill might have been a key piece. Without him, it was a slow day along the defensive line.
Cam Sutton, CB: Sutton has quietly been a lockdown corner for the Lions this season. He did struggle in the second half, getting picked on by rookie Quentin Johnston on multiple occasions.