Just two seasons ago, a Detroit Lions victory at Lincoln Financial Field seemed nearly impossible. The Lions had fired Jim Caldwell after what felt like the franchise was at a standstill. The Eagles and Doug Pederson were led by Nick Foles after a Carson Wentz injury forced the team to change quarterback hands. They were led to a Super Bowl, something Lions have hoped just to get to since the Lombardi Trophy Era started.
Nonetheless, Foles is now a Jacksonville Jaguar and Wentz is, yet again, banged up. The team had to resort to walkthroughs this week over a full practice, they are not healthy. The Lions are coming in off a great victory over the Chargers. This looked to be a victory for the Lions. It didn’t come easy, but the Lions walked away with a 27-24 victory over the Eagles.
The Lions are now a 2-0-1 team. They are winning games they typically have lost over the years, but a lot of the fanbase is not convinced yet that they’re improved. This seems typical of the social media side of the spectrum, but in the locker room, they are believing. Two wins that could’ve easily been losses will do that. Here are three takeaways from today’s victory-
If you read last week’s recap, this was part of a takeaway from last week. Matthew Stafford had thrown two interceptions through two weeks of the season, and there was the beginning of yet more angst amongst Detroit fans. However, this week, the turnovers were a positive light for this team.
In today’s NFL defensive scheme, it isn’t necessarily how many yards you give up on one play or even how many points you give up, it’s if your defense can create turnovers to help your offense. This time, the Lions defense did just that. Darius Slay and A’Shawn Robinson recovered fumbles from Miles Sanders and Nelson Agholor, which led to points that helped the team in the end.
Any time that your team is on the positive side of the turnover battle, it will help your team in the greatest light. And in this case, the Lions won by a field goal (created from a turnover) because of it. Now, to the second takeaway-
2. Special Teams
This year hasn’t been kind to the Lions’ Special Teams unit, and it almost cost them this game. A blocked Matt Prater field goal by Malcolm Jenkins would have put the ball on the Lions’ side of the field. This also would’ve been a prime spot for Wentz to try for a game-winning Touchdown, or rely on Jake Elliott to tie the game with a Field Goal of their own. But, an Illegal Block in the Back call against Jenkins forced the ball back on the Eagles’ side of the field, and the Lions defense held firm.
Another major play in this game was the Jamal Agnew kickoff-return touchdown on what looked like a kick that should’ve been downed in the end zone. This put the Lions up 7-3 early and gave the Lions confidence that they needed early in the game. This year has been shaky for the unit, with multiple penalties and questionable returns, but the unit has stayed strong and helped them win a crucial game in Philly. Now, to the third and final point-
3. Utilizing Every Facet of the Offense
Stafford is doing just that. Not only is offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell relying on his star, but he’s opening up the playbook, similar to how he did it in Seattle. Now, Stafford is no Russell Wilson, so he can’t run the ball like Wilson can. But, Stafford threw to nine different receivers today. His Tyler Lockett, or Marvin Jones, provided catches of more than 10 yards 6 times, for the Lions’ third 100-yard game by a Wide Receiver this season.
The responsible Wideout for 100-yard game number 1, Danny Amendola, only had 37 yards, and the second 100 yarder, Kenny Golladay, had 17. But, with the many receivers used, the Eagles were tricked and tricked well enough for a Lions’ victory.
With that being said, the running game struggled yet again. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham did an effective job stopping the run, as the running unit was held to 86 yards total as a whole. Kerryon Johnson struggled yet again, with only 36 yards, but this isn’t his fault. A stout Philly defensive front with a shaky Lions Offensive Line will do that to any runner. The running game has to find its groove for sustained success this season, but trust in Stafford will win you games. That’s been a major point of the recaps so far this year.
The next task for the Lions is their hardest yet this season- Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid‘s team may have lost Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, but LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and Demarcus Robinson have proven to fill the void left by Hunt and Hill in the high-flying offense.
Nobody has beaten the Chiefs yet this season, but one this looks very clear. A running game and turnovers are a recipe to keep the Chiefs in check, as Mark Ingram ran for three scores in the Ravens close loss to Kansas City. Johnson will have to get his game going. As for the defense, it’s simply hoping for turnovers. This game is doable, but certainly the Lions’ toughest test so far.
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