A win is a win, no matter how ugly. Sunday’s win was especially ugly, but like so many other instances with this year’s Detroit Lions team, they found a way to win. Overcoming themselves and the Chicago Bears was no different, erasing a 12-point deficit in the last three minutes of the game for a triumphant victory. Here are your movers for the week:
Stock down: Jack Campbell, LB
Stats: 9 tackles
Whew, don’t let those nine tackles deceive you. Campbell left at least half as many on the table. From the first drive of the game, Campbell looked dazed and confused. The Bears’ rushing attack had him in an absolute blender, whiffing on one tackle after another. He didn’t seem comfortable playing his position and his athleticism certainly didn’t come into play. He was outplayed by the likes of Derrick Barnes, which isn’t exactly what you want out of your first-round linebacker.
Lucky for Campbell, he has stellar support like Alex Anzalone to clean up the mess. If the Lions were to ask Campbell to step into the LB1 role due to injury to Anzalone or some other circumstance, it’s clear they would be in trouble. Not Campbell’s best day by any means.
Stock up: Brian Branch, S
Stats: 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended, 1 QB hit
On the flipside of the rookie class was Brian Branch, finally looking like the man we knew prior to his ankle injury a few weeks back. The fact that Branch’s performance in recent weeks was considered subpar speaks volumes to what this team asks of him, and to what he has delivered in such a short time.
So Brian Branch becomes NFL's first rookie DB in over a decade with 5 TFL's in a season, then notches another. This is his eighth game. He's different.— Will Burchfield (@burchie_kid) November 19, 2023
The stat box alone is a testament to Branch’s versatility and how much this coaching staff trusts him already, especially when you consider the Lions already have two very formidable safeties in Kerby Joseph and Tracy Walker. Hopefully he can continue building on the footing he regained Sunday.
Stock up: Alex Anzalone, LB
Stats: 15 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Linebacker can often be one of those positions you only truly appreciate when it goes wrong (see above). That has been the case for Anzalone for much of the year, but Sunday was different. Anzalone was flying around the field like a missile and wrapping up one of the league’s hottest tight ends in Cole Kmet in coverage all day. It was another masterclass performance from Anzalone, who has quietly ascended into being one this defense’s finest players.
Heck, he’s ascending into one of the league’s best linebackers, period.
Stock down: Jared Goff, QB
Stats: 23/35, 236 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
No matter how impressive the end of the fourth quarter, I’d be remiss not to mention this one. Jared Goff was not the man we know and love in the first half. Although not all the interceptions were his own fault, he also got away with multiple abysmal throws that should have been intercepted, perhaps turning into six for Chicago.
Tipped or not tipped, Goff stared down his receiver and was throwing into double coverage. Whew.— Hamza Baccouche #BNL (@HamzaPOD) November 19, 2023
Now, credit where credit is due. The Jared Goff of old days would have spiraled and tried to do too much to overcome his mistakes. It took until the 11th hour, but Goff found his footing just in time to save the day.
Jared Goff in the 4th quarter:— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 19, 2023
11-of-14 for 120 yards, 1 TD https://t.co/yjAVCA2xVE
Ultimately, it was Jared’s boneheaded mistakes that put the Lions into this pickle to begin with. However, he did enough to rectify it Sunday. Not to be a downer, but those mistakes won’t slide against any worthwhile team in this league, so here’s to hoping Jared puts them behind him.
Stock up: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE
Stats: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
If this were college, Hutchinson’s big play to put the Bears away would have been his Heisman moment. Instead, it’ll be his Detroit moment, the one that confirms that #WeOwnTheBears.
Hutchinson has had loud stretches and quiet stretches this season, but one thing has become evident in his year and a half as a Lion: Hutchinson owns Justin Fields. Sunday confirmed it, and we’ll get to see it again in three weeks. And of course, kudos to Hutch for the celebratory punt.
Jameson Williams, WR: Jamo rebounded well this week with a nice deep ball when the Lions needed it most, giving them enough time to orchestrate the game-winning drive.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB: Gibbs had a tremendous heads up play to get out of bounds on the Lions’ second-to-last offensive possession, saving them 30 valuable seconds. That was after a very impressive broken tackle.
Alim McNeill, DT: I said last week that McNeill’s inconsistency could make or break games for the Lions. Sunday, he showed up with a huge sack in crunch time, and it made the game.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR: Beyond St. Brown’s usual heroics, he fielded Bears punter Trenton Gill’s onside punt attempt to close the game, which was exponentially more difficult than he made it look.
Jerry Jacobs, WR: Jacobs had a bad beat deep by D.J. Moore for a long touchdown. Him covering Moore to begin with was a surprise, whether that was on accident or the Lions are playing him as CB1 is unclear.
Sam LaPorta, TE: LaPorta has found his calling as Goff’s safety net, but he and Goff were far from on the same page Sunday. While the first missed connection arguably should’ve been a penalty, the second almost caused the Lions another turnover.
Craig Reynolds, RB: Reynolds’ fumble on a second-half kick return proved costly for the Lions. Those kinds of mistakes can’t happen against better teams.