The Lions dominated the early stages of the game, establishing an early lead. However, the second half became a defensive battle where the Lions showcased their supremacy by making crucial stops. Despite the mainstream media framing the game as Matthew Stafford’s return to Detroit, it was, in fact, Jared Goff’s revenge against his former team that ultimately led Detroit to victory.
The entire Lions community is buzzing with excitement on this triumphant day, with well-deserved praise circulating. While there is much to celebrate, there are also areas that need attention as the Lions gear up for the next round, where they will face either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s delve into this week’s Studs and Duds from the Lions’ playoff victory against the Rams.
Stud: Amon-Ra St. Brown
When the Lions were in need of a game-changing play, it was no surprise that they turned to their star-studded receiver, St. Brown. Finishing the day with an impressive 110 yards on seven catches, each of which was a team high, St. Brown showcased his significance to the Lions. Despite not finding the end zone, his pivotal plays, especially on crucial third-down conversions, underscored his importance.
In a decisive moment at the end of the game, with the Lions attempting to run down the clock and secure one more first down to seal the victory, they entrusted the ball to the reliable hands of Mr. Old Reliable—St. Brown. The game was effectively sealed, adding another chapter to the ongoing saga of Amon-Ra St. Brown, with undoubtedly more to be written in the future.
Dud: Kindle Vildor
The Rams boast a couple of formidable weapons in Cooper Kupp and rookie sensation Puka Nuckua. It was widely anticipated that the Lions secondary would face a tough challenge dealing with them, and that prediction proved accurate. Unfortunately, Vildor bore the brunt of many of those plays, including a long third-down conversion and a missed tackle that resulted in a Tutu Atwell touchdown. As the game unfolded, it became evident that the Rams were exploiting this vulnerability, leading to a string of successes.
It is crucial for the Lions to find a solution to provide support for Vildor, as the one-on-one matchups proved to be a recipe for failure. Addressing this weakness will be key moving forward to ensure a more balanced and resilient defensive performance.
Stud: Jared Goff
The passionate Detroit fans made it abundantly clear today who their quarterback was, and Jared Goff showcased his mettle with a performance that revealed his true capabilities. While he may not have posted numbers comparable to Stafford’s, Goff demonstrated methodical precision in his drives, consistently putting his teammates in positions to succeed. Despite a few minor setbacks, he delivered a flawless performance when the Lions needed him the most.
Carrying a massive chip on his shoulder, Goff seemed determined to give the Rams a rude awakening, effectively ending their playoff journey. The nation now recognizes Goff as the real deal, and he seems poised to continue silencing his doubters with each game.
Dud: C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Gardner-Johnson is still in the process of finding his rhythm after returning from injury, and today’s game highlighted some rustiness in the face of the Rams’ aerial assault. Throughout most of the match, he seemed a step behind the ball and missed tackles that proved costly, enabling the Rams to extend their drives with timely conversions. The signature plays for which Gardner-Johnson is known were notably absent, especially when the Lions needed a pivotal defensive play.
This performance signals a need for Gardner-Johnson and the Lions secondary to regroup and address the issues affecting the team’s defensive effectiveness. A return to the drawing board is in order to shore up these defensive challenges.
Stud: Aidan Hutchinson
Similar to St. Brown, when the Lions were in need of a pivotal play, they turned to their defensive weapon, Hutchinson, who answered the call emphatically. Operating as a formidable force upfront, Hutchinson wreaked havoc on the Rams’ offensive line, creating challenges for Stafford. His stat line for the day included six tackles, an impressive five quarterback hits, and two well-timed sacks.
The relentless pressure exerted by Hutchinson accelerated the clock in Stafford’s mind, making his decisions under duress. Undoubtedly fueled by the electric energy of the crowd, Hutchinson’s impactful performance was a highlight today and is poised to continue into the upcoming week.
Stud: Red zone defense
The Rams offense operated seamlessly, showcasing the formidable Stafford-Nuckua connection that seemed unstoppable against the Lions. However, the miracle that disrupted their momentum came in the form of the Lions’ red zone defense. While the Rams managed to score both of their touchdowns on significant plays, it was within the red zone that the Lions demonstrated resilience. Despite bending, they did not break, holding the Rams to field goals.
The ability to limit the Rams’ red zone success turned out to be the crucial factor in the Lions’ victory. Although ideally, the Lions wouldn’t want to find themselves in such challenging situations, it was commendable to witness their defense buckle down with their backs against the wall and rise to the occasion.