Was I the only one who heard people saying this felt too much like the New Orleans Saints game when the Lions went up 21-0? I won’t complain, though. It was nice to have a stress-free win from start to finish, and see lots of guys get back on track.
Stock up: Jameson Williams, WR
Stats: 4 receptions, 47 yards
Hello, Jamo! Saturday night was by far Jamo’s best game as a Detroit Lion, and it wasn’t close. We saw so much more than raw speed. We saw patience, aggression, and whatever work of art this was:
Jameson Williams putting a defender on skates. Good game for him so far.— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) December 17, 2023
Team-high 5 targets in opening 21:45. pic.twitter.com/NislUF1h63
Not gonna lie, I had to watch that play back several times just to wrap my head around how he made the space to run down the sideline and get the first down. Jamo complemented that nicely with a high-point grab down the sideline later on in the game.
These are the kind of opportunities Jamo needs to continue to get to grow and pick up his pace at this level doing more than just fly routes. He clearly has the skillset, and can make space if just given the chance.
Stock up: Ifeatu Melifonwu, S
Stats: 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 passes defended, 2 QB hits
If you took the name and number off the back of the jersey, I would’ve sworn we saw Brian Branch flying all over the field Saturday night. Instead, it was Ifeatu Melifonwu, making his second consecutive start and making a case as the Lions’ best safety right now. He really did it all Saturday.
Iffy was making plays EVERYWHERE tonight pic.twitter.com/puixzZpvaF— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 17, 2023
Iffy continues to show tremendous growth and maturity, and serves as a reminder to everyone (especially myself) not to write off draft picks early. Lord knows I thought Melifonwu had plateaued after his first couple of seasons, but he has really come into his own and is now becoming a key piece of this defense.
Stock up: Aaron Glenn, DC
The task at hand for Aaron Glenn Saturday night was no easy one, and he did not disappoint. The Lions were facing one of the hotter offenses in the league in a Broncos team that had won six of their last seven games. Russell Wilson was finally looking like himself again, until he came to Detroit.
Glenn’s biggest adjustment this week was coming to terms with the subpar coverage from his safeties, and as a result using them to blitz Wilson rather than counting on reliable coverage for the duration of Wilson’s stay in the pocket. It proved fruitful early, and opened things up for the defensive line too. It was a pressure party in Detroit, and that pressure came from many places other than just the interior.
It was an uphill battle for Glenn to bench Jerry Jacobs in favor of guys like Khalil Dorsey and Kindle Vildor in an already-thin secondary. However, he found a way to give his defense synergy, and it took the life out of a very formidable opposing offense on Saturday night.
Stock up: Khalil Dorsey, CB
Stats: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended
What a ride from Khalil Dorsey. After spending the early part of the season battling the rare condition Rhabdomyolysis and coming back very slowly, he has ramped up a lot in recent weeks. Since November, Dorsey has established himself as one of the Lions’ best special teams players and certainly their best gunner.
Now, as Jerry Jacobs has struggled and Aaron Glenn searched for an answer, it was Dorsey’s time to step up to bat. It wasn’t without speed bumps, but for his first start, Dorsey held his own. His most impressive play on the day came on a pass breakup where Dorsey shot behind the line of scrimmage like he was playing gunner again, and it would have amounted to a three- or four-yard loss had the receiver held onto the ball. Dorsey got a lot of love for his play Saturday night, and every bit of it was deserved.
And Khalil Dorsey basked in the moment, saying he’s never been interviewed like this after a game. Made me stop and repeat my question with a giant grin on his face.— Ben Raven (@BenjaminSRaven) December 17, 2023
Stock down: Jonah Jackson, G
Jared Goff’s first sack of the day was as much on Goff as it was on Jonah Jackson for the missed block. However, it continued to highlight the up-and-down season Jackson has had after coming off of a career year in 2022. When he has been healthy enough to play this season, he hasn’t always been his sharpest self. He’s still one of the better guards in the league, but his variable play as of late may take a hit to his price tag this offseason.
Stock up: Jared Goff, QB
Stats: 24/34, 278 yards, 5 TD
It was a much-needed day of smooth sailing for Jared Goff after a handful of rocky weeks. Throwing in the all-blue jerseys, playing at home, and playing behind a relatively healthy offensive line all formed the perfect storm for one of his most impressive statistical days of his career. Goff was spreading the ball around from start to finish, with six different players accounting for multiple receptions. He also looked a lot more confident throwing deeper and further outside the hashes than we’ve seen him since the bye week.
He also looked a lot more in sync with his favorite targets (namely Sam LaPorta) from start to finish.
Stock down: Jack Fox, P
Stats: 4 punts, 35.5 yards per punt
It’s hard to win games when your best player is having a down day, yet the Lions managed on Saturday night. Lucky for the team, they didn’t need much punting against the Broncos, because it wasn’t Fox’s night. He opened with a shank that netted just 21 yards before sailing well out of bounds. He would follow that up with a pooch punt that unfortunately rolled for a touchback, netting just 19. His third attempt was another pooch punt fair caught at the 16-yard line, but we all know Fox is better than that. It was simply an off day for Fox, but his first in a while; no doubt we’ll see him bounce back.
Sam LaPorta, TE: I mean, we know he can do this by now. I don’t have much more to add, but the man is unstoppable.
Michael Badgley, K: The Money Badger is back, baby! He didn’t get much action, but went 6/6 on extra points after silently reclaiming his job over the past five weeks.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE: Hutch felt a lot more involved from the getgo this week. Most notably, he looked a lot better at continuing to rush the passer if his first move didn’t succeed, and it led to an early QB hit that almost turned into an interception.
Kindle Vildor, CB: Vildor got in on the action in the Broncos backfield Saturday, executing a beautiful corner blitz to Russell Wilson’s backside to force an errant throw that almost turned into much more.
Josh Paschal, DL: Paschal is slowly piecing together good performances more and more frequently. He pitched in a sack, a QB hit, and two TFLs Saturday night. He’s on the rise.
Isaiah Buggs, DL: Buggs has been shuffled around so many roles this season from starter to benched to completely inactive, but he has been patient all through it and the big man got his chance to shine Sunday with a fumble recovery rumble.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR: St. Brown rebounded from a rough Week 14 to post his best statistical performance in over a month, finding plenty of holes in the Broncos secondary.
Malcolm Rodriguez, LB/FB: Rodrigo is just a football guy. Saturday, he added to his arsenal by recovering an onside kick. He continues to find ways to contribute to this football team.
Dan Campbell, HC: Anytime the student pulls one over on the master, it’s a big deal. Kudos to Campbell for the firm win over his former mentor Sean Payton.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB: Gibbs was explosive and vertical all day long. He made defenders look silly on this run that was reminiscent of his fellow Alabama T.J. Yeldon in his prime for the Crimson Tide.
Frank Ragnow, C: Ragnow taking the field, let alone playing a clean game, just a week and a half post meniscus surgery is absolutely absurd.
Riley Patterson, K: Badgley’s gain was Patterson’s loss, both literally and figuratively. The Lions hadn’t given him many opportunities for field goal attempts over the last month or two, and now it’s apparent why.