The Detroit Lions are getting healthy on offense, and if Sunday is any indication, that could be bad news for the rest of the NFL.
Jared Goff threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams ran for scores as the Lions, playing with their full complement of offensive weapons — including rookie first-round pick Jameson Williams for the first time this season — won their most convincing game of the Dan Campbell era, 40-14, over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field.
The Lions scored on their first eight offensive possessions, failing to get points only after two kneel-down snaps on their final drive, to run away with a win Campbell said “can catapult us through December.”
“We’ve beaten good teams, we’ve beaten teams with lesser records, we’ve dominated teams and we’ve had our times when we’ve struggled, but in the last five games we’ve been playing good football, taking care of the ball on offense, causing turnovers on defense and clean in the kicking game,” Goff said. “It’s a pretty good formula and we’ve been doing that. It feels good. That was as complete a team win as I’ve been a part of. It was really, really well done and proud of our guys.”
The Lions have won four of their past five games, with their only blemish since Halloween coming in last week’s Thanksgiving loss to the Buffalo Bills, who kicked the game-winning field goal with 2 seconds to play.
At 5-7, the Lions are firmly in the playoff hunt with five games left. They trail the Seattle Seahawks (7-5) by two games for the NFC’s final wild card spot.
The Lions host NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings next week, visit the New York Jets in Week 15, then close the season with games against three teams with losing records, the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
They can afford at most one more loss, and likely need to win out, to make the playoffs.
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“I think we can compete with anybody,” Campbell said. “You got to do all the things right to win, as we all know. It doesn’t matter who we play, it doesn’t matter what the record is. If you don’t play clean enough football, you turn the ball over, you don’t get takeaways, you get a ton of penalties, then, no, you’re not going to win. Doesn’t matter who you play. But when we do things right, I like our odds.”
The Lions did lots of things right Sunday, starting on the game’s opening drive when DeShon Elliott ripped a fumble from Jaguars running back Travis Etienne’s hands on the second play from scrimmage.
They built leads of 14-3 in the first quarter and 23-6 at halftime, outgained the Jaguars 437 yards to 266 yards, and allowed just 3 of 12 third down conversions on defense.
“It’s embarrassing, honestly, what we put out there in such a big game for us,” Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “I mean, that’s the word to describe it, it’s embarrassing. Everybody in that locker room feels that way, too. I mean, this is a playoff game for us and we go out there and laid down. Credit to them, those guys, those guys whooped us. I’m not taking anything away from them, but just the way we came out on both sides of the ball, all three phases, just didn’t play anywhere close to our best football.”
Jamaal Williams opened the scoring for the Lions with his 14th touchdown run of the season, surpassing his rushing touchdown total (13) from the first five seasons of his career.
Goff threw touchdown passes of 10 and 4 yards to Amon-Ra St. Brown, Swift added a 1-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half and Michael Badgley made all four of his field goal attempts for the Lions.
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Lawrence was 17 of 31 passing for 179 yards with one touchdown and Christian Kirk had six catches for 104 yards for the Jaguars (4-8).
The Lions, who have battled injuries at their skill positions all year, had a St. Brown, Swift, DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds in the lineup for just the second time since Week 1, and Jameson Williams, their talented rookie receiver, played six snaps in his NFL debut after missing the past 11 months with a torn ACL.
Goff finished 31 of 41 passing, St. Brown had 11 catches for 114 yards and Swift matched a season-high with 18 touches and finished with 62 yards rushing and 41 receiving.
The Lions have scored 25 or more points in four straight games for the first time since 2012, and have six 30-point offensive outputs this season, most in the NFL this season and second most in franchise history behind only the 2011 Lions (seven).
“I think we just went out there and played our brand of football,” Elliott said. “We went out there and hit them in the mouth. You hit anybody in the mouth, they don’t want to keep playing ball. I think with that being said, we keep playing like that, we can be a great team. I think we can go out here and make the playoffs if we keep playing like that one game at a time.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Healthy, high-powered offense lifts Detroit Lions to win over Jaguars