The Detroit Lions made the home fans happy with the 36-27 victory over the Washington Commanders in Week 2. An absolutely dominant first half turned into an uneasy battle in the second half, but the Lions made enough plays on both sides of the ball to secure the victory.
Given all the injuries and the defensive lapses that plagued the team in the Week 1 loss to the Eagles, the win is a sweet one for head coach Dan Campbell. Evening the record at 1-1 avoids a catastrophic start to the season that would potentially lose confidence from the players, something Campbell’s mentor, former Saints head coach Sean Payton, noted after the game.
Here are some quick takeaways from watching the Lions victory in real-time.
Aidan Hutchinson went off
This is the exact kind of impact performance the Lions envisioned when they drafted Hutchinson No. 2 overall last April. Hutchinson was a dominant presence along the defensive front.
No. 97 bagged three sacks on Commanders QB Carson Wentz, all in the first half. He also notched two tackles-for-loss in the run game and helped force both a safety and an intentional grounding penalty that led to it.
Hutchinson was hobbled a bit in the second half, playing with a large wrap around his upper leg. But he still made a big impact, nearly bagging sack No. 4 and giving Wentz and the Washington OL nightmares until the very end of the game.
Give Dan Skipper the game ball
Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) scores a touchdown against Washington Commanders during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Anthony Pittman (57) tackles Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson watches a play against Washington Commanders during the second half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports
Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Skipper had never started in an NFL game before. He’d also never played anything but offensive tackle before dating back to his college days at Arkansas.
Yet there was Skipper starting at left guard in place of injured Jonah Jackson. In emergency duty, Skipper more than held his own. The sixth-year vet gave up an early sack on a nice DL twist by Washington and then played a very strong game. He was physical and effective in the run game all afternoon.
Just shoved a Washington play on top of the pile, stood over him, and the Washington player just kinda took it and put his hand up to not confront Skipper. Just a completely different attitude. Dominating.
— ACAB (@DFF_Blizzard) September 18, 2022
Coach Campbell made it a point to show his appreciation for Skipper after the game. It was a fantastic performance given the dire circumstances. Game ball-worthy.
Washington helped cost themselves the game
After the 22-0 shellacking Detroit painted upon them in the first half, the Commanders played a lot better in the second stanza. Coach Ron Rivera made some nice adjustments that were effective in closing the gap to make the game competitive.
But not every decision “Riverboat Ron” tried paid off. Washington’s odd choice to try for a 2-pt. conversion after closing the score to 29-21 backfired. Bobby Price picked off Wentz on a poorly designed play.
Playcalling neutered another late threat. Washington got 1st-and-goal trailing by two scores late in the fourth quarter. They chose to run the ball up the gut twice in a row, and the Lions defense easily stymied both runs. Not only did the plays fail, but it also bled more than a minute off the clock to take the game down to the two-minute warning. Kicker Joey Slye missed the extra point once Washington did score to make it academic, but the lost time effectively ended the game more than the Lions defense did.
This offense can be a lot of diverse fun
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
For the third game in a row, the Lions scored at least 35 points. Technically the offense only provided 34–the defense got a safety early on–but it’s still the most prolific period of offensive production for the Lions since 1953. Yeah, 1953–the last time the Lions won the NFL Championship.
Jared Goff had a mixed bag of a game. On the positive side, Goff tossed four touchdown passes. Two of them–the toe-drag swag catch by Josh Reynolds and the front-corner snag by Amon-Ra St. Brown–were absolutely perfect throws into tight openings. Goff also left some points on the field early with some missed options and off-target throws, but he fulfilled potential pretty nicely in this one.
The weaponry and the play-calling demonstrated the explosive nature of the offense. There was a D’Andre Swift 50-yard run, the second straight week Swift gained exactly 50 yards on a single scamper. St. Brown topped that with a 58-yard jet sweep called at the perfect time. T.J. Hockenson had a quiet day overall but made a fantastic key catch late just as the defense started to ignore him. Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds each had some nice runs behind the makeshift line featuring third-string RG Logan Stenberg, backup center Evan Brown and fourth-stringer Skipper playing out of position.
Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports
–In the first half of the game, CB Jeff Okudah followed top Commanders WR Terry McLaurin all over the field, per the FOX Sports broadcast. McLaurin didn’t get a single catch. This comes one week after Okudah shut out Eagles WR Devonta Smith. Okudah later gave up a couple of completions, including one to McLaurin where he also blew the tackle, but it’s another strong performance in the return of Okudah.
–Will Harris had a rough game overall but did snag his first career interception on a terrible throw by Wentz. Can’t miss high over the middle and Harris made him pay off the deflection.
–Need to watch the tape but I felt like LB Alex Anzalone had a much better game than in Week 1. Rookie Malcolm Rodriguez got burned in coverage a couple of times but his run defense was outstanding.
–On the run defense front, Commanders RBs managed just 37 yards on 17 carries. Lions RBs: 20 carries, 125 yards.
–Detroit had one penalty in the entire game, a false start by RT Penei Sewell on the opening drive.
–Other than the opening kickoff of the second half, a nice return by the Commanders, the Lions special teams were outstanding in all phases. Special notice to long snapper Scott Daly, who had another perfect game.
–Speaking of the FOX Sports broadcast, the first half was rough. There was an audio glitch, followed by the camera crew whiffing on a long pass to St. Brown. They also completely missed the intentional grounding penalty on Washington, playing a clip and talking over the official announcement. It overshadowed what I found to be a really nice job by color commentator Jonathan Vilma.