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Lions take sole possession of 2nd seed in the NFC in win over hapless Raiders

The Detroit Lions (6-2) walked out 26-14 victors at Ford Field for their first Monday Night Football victory since a 30-17 victory at Green Bay in November 2017. They did this against a poor Las Vegas Raiders (3-5) team who struggled to move the ball all day barring one good running drive by Josh Jacobs. Pregame I called for the Lions to win by any means necessary and that a one-point victory was sufficient, and this was far in excess of that. The Lions won the game despite having a negative 3 turnover differential, by effectively winning the game on both sides of the trenches.

Jahmyr Gibbs scores a 27 yard rushing TD for the Detroit Lions against the Las Vegas Raiders
Jahmyr Gibbs scores a 27 yard rushing TD for the Detroit Lions against the Las Vegas Raiders

So, job done then. However, now the way here we can reflect on the game in terms of how it went and the room for improvement.

In pregame, I was very concerned about 3 backup interior offensive linemen playing in this game and how it would affect our ability to both run and pass the ball. The result: Jared Goff was largely protected and able to throw against a reasonably good Raiders pass rush, and the Lions were able to run the ball extremely effectively, with a breakout day for Jahmyr Gibbs as well as Craig Reynolds also going for five yards a carry. The one offensive concern remains red zone efficiency. The team has scored 13 red zone touchdowns on 27 trips which is 48.1%, good for 21st in the NFL, and by comparison, Detroit’s opponents have scored 17 red zone touchdowns on 26 trips which is 65.4%, which is good for Detroit having the 27th best red zone defense. The Lions continue to hand the ball off on first down and goal from 5 plus yards, and this formula has not worked, causing holding penalties and putting the Lions in 2nd and 3rd and long in goal-to-go situations. A shift is required down in this area, even if that is just bringing the Lions back to basics a little by putting the ball in Goff's hands and throwing toward the end zone, which they have seemed to get away from for a while. Sam LaPorta and Amon-Ra St Brown are your friends here, use them!

I was also concerned that Jimmy Garoppolo, as a reasonably accurate short passer, is exactly the sort of course of act that the Detroit Lions have struggled against in the last five years. In addition to going up against Davante Adams, who in my opinion is still one of the better wide receivers in the NFL, and Jakobi Meyers who has been a good acquisition from the New England Patriots, and going against Hunter Renfrow who has not had the best season but is still a dynamic weapon in this league, I feared that our coverage unit that struggled against Baltimore would also show up yesterday. The result: the coverage unit largely played well there were some nice pass breakups in there by many people including Tracy Walker and a nice interception by Kerby Joseph, Jerry Jacobs had a fantastic day, and Cam Sutton had an up-and-down outing. Jimmy Garoppolo was under pressure for much of the game and his accuracy wavered, especially coming off injury he did not look like himself. My saying that Cam Sutton has an up-and-down day may surprise you, and my take is not just based on his low PFF grade of 33.8, but the Davante Adams burned him for two walk-in touchdowns, but Jimmy Garoppolo could not deliver.

Big props must be given to this team to rebound when given adversity. The team committed three turnovers in the game and continued to respond whenever they committed one of these issues, for example, Josh Reynolds fumbles the ball, and the very next play Jimmy Garoppolo tossed up an interception to Kerby Joseph. Goff throws a pick 6, and the Lions respond by driving all the way down the field. Craig Reynolds fumbles the ball within the five-yard line [dubious], and the Lions force a punt followed by a 2-play TD drive. The Lions have preached grit, but this is what it means. Time and time again this has been the result, the Lions respond to adversity with strength. When they could crumble, and momentum could get away from them, they respond by either taking time out of the game and given their defense rest or by putting points on the board quickly. It instills great confidence that when Detroit gets to the post-season, as they surely will this year, they will be equally comfortable playing from behind or in front when many teams only know how to do one or the other.

The Lions are 6-2 at the bye, joint-2nd in the NFL. What a refreshing sentence to finish on.


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Comments (2)

Ash, thank you so much for doing these. You and the rest of the ROTL UK gang are fantastic!


Jerimy Walker
Jerimy Walker
Apr 30, 2023

Greetings, I was glad to listen to your interesting interview. The season went really well. I liked the quality of your broadcast, which application did you use for this? Is it on this list? I just want to do live broadcasts

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