The last time the Detroit Lions did so well on a big stage, Barry Sanders could have been on defense. Or maybe it was when TVs were black and white.
Lions fans may not know what to do after Thursday night. After a 34-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers, which was dominant except for a break in the third quarter, which allowed the Packers to briefly get back into the game, the Lions seem to be the favorites to win in the NFC North. They have not won a division title since 1993.
The Lions had the worst possible start, with Jared Goff intercepting the middle. If you’re a pessimistic Leo – and after decades of losing, how could it not be? this was a sign that the Lions were not yet ready for the big stage. Then, for the rest of the first half, Lions against Packers didn’t look much different last week than Kansas City Chiefs did against Chicago Bears. The Lions led 27-3 at halftime and had 14 times as many yards as the Packers.
The Packers began to recover in the second half, when the Lions seemed to relax a little. That’s a lesson Detroit has yet to learn. But after the Packers scored to cut the Lions’ lead to 27-17, defensive end John Cominsky made a big tackle on Jordan Love’s two-point conversion attempt and then the Lions offense effectively ended the game with a long drive.
That offense was kept alive by a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct by the Packers when Quay Walker tried to skip the line on a field goal attempt. After this terrible penalty, David Montgomery, who had a great night, scored his third touchdown of the game in fourth place. The Lions had a one-quarter time-out, but the final result did not change.
There were a surprising number of Lions fans at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. In the last few minutes, shouts of”Come on, lions” could be heard on the broadcast and lasted until the post-match coverage. Lions fans have not felt so good for a long time.
Lions have a great first time
It may be blasphemous to say that about any other franchise after only four games, but Lions fans probably won’t argue much: this looks like Detroit’s best team since 1957.
There are not many other candidates. They’ve only won one playoff game since then and no Lions team has had the balance of that game since then.
Last season, the Lions were good in attack, and at best decent in defense. The Lions got to work on the defense in the offseason. It was broadcast on Thursday evening.
Led by the outstanding second player Aidan Hutchinson – an absolute gift of a draft pick to the Lions after the Jacksonville Jaguars impressively surpassed him in the first overall ranking – Detroit’s defense surrounded Love. Green Bay’s offensive line is injured and the Lions took advantage of that. The Packers only had one yard left a few minutes after the start of the second half.
They didn’t get the first down of the game until late in the second quarter at 7:41 a.m. It happened in a defensive penalty. A few games later, Love was released, and the running length of the game at that time was Lions 227, Packers -1. At halftime it was 284-20. It’s rare that an NFL team dominates an opponent like that. It’s even rarer to see a street team do that.
The Lions were already controlling the game with a 17-3 lead when the defense made a huge play. Linebacker Alex Anzalone caught a pass in the middle, quarterback Jerry Jacobs caught it and set up Montgomery’s second touchdown. The Lions made every possible defensive play in the first half. The way the time ended was also fitting. The Packers, desperate for something positive, tried to make a play at the last minute. On the final play of the half, Love was sacked for the fourth time with a 13-yard loss.
Even if the enthusiasm for the Lions grew in the spring and summer after a strong finish last season, Detroit fans could not have imagined that Thursday night would be so good.
Lions make a statement
The biggest step the Lions took in rebuilding was last season’s finale at Lambeau Field. After the Lions were eliminated from the playoffs, they beat the Packers and were eliminated from the playoffs. It was a big win, but there was no real pressure that night either. There was no guarantee the Lions would maintain that momentum this season.
Detroit was 2-1 on Thursday night. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs for the opener, but a home loss to the Seattle Seahawks in week 2 made everyone wonder if the Lions were real. The Packers can answer that question after Thursday night.
The Packers went into the game 2-1 down and looked helpless at times. For most of the game, Detroit’s defense did what it wanted, and the offense had little trouble moving the ball. Even Barry Sanders was thinking about a comeback.
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) September 29, 2023
After Thursday night, there’s no doubt the Lions are in charge of the NFC North. There is still a long way to go and things can happen over the course of a season, especially for a team with the history of the Lions. But no one should question the Lions after what everyone has seen in Green Bay.