IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Lions Making History, Defeat Bucs and Look Toward Playoffs

Ken Cross

October 19, 2023 at 5:22 pm.

TAMPA, Fla – The playoff history of the Detroit Lions is a story of failure and disbelief. Currently, they haven’t seen the NFL Playoffs in seven seasons as the last was in 2016 when they fell to the Seattle Seahawks, 26-6.

Take that a step further. How about a playoff win? One since 1957 and just one playoff appearance between 1957 and 1983.

The win came in a 38-6 blasting of the Dallas Cowboys back in 1992.

A Super Bowl? Neh! The Lions organization has not seen the impassioned championship turf.

The closest was in 1991 when Joe Gibbs’ eventual World Champion Washington Redskins tamed the Lions, 41-10, in the NFC Championship Game at Washington’s RFK Stadium.

The attention flips to this season where the Lions are the favorites to win their first division title since 1993. It would be only the fifth in the 93-year history of the historic franchise.

Lions’ fans are quite serious about the possibilities of the squad as they showed up en mass last Sunday in Tampa. Blue Lions jerseys challenged the Buccaneers’ cream sickle orange uniforms in a battle of livelihood for each franchise.

“When you have the fans that travel with us and show up in the stands, I feel like every game, there are more and more showing up,” said Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

The Lions are attracting the noise and the care out of a silent fandom that has had to be one of the quietest and most patient groups in the NFL or maybe all of sports.

“We got into this game there at the end and up two scores and Tampa’s offense is out there on the field and I feel like they are about to have to go into a silent cadence at their own place,” remembered Campbell. “It’s a good feeling. It’s a good vibe. I can tell you the players and coaches notice it.”

Detroit has its first 5-1 start since 2011, as the Lions have won these five games each by 14 or more points.

Offensively, this starts with a quarterback in Jared Goff who is proving that he is a winner in addition to his quality leadership skills. Goff completed 30 of 44 passes for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was a sturdy playmaker as he caught 12 passes for 124 yards and a score.

His touchdown was an interesting study of how the Lions are orchestrating drives through perseverance and depth of creativity.

Goff threw what appeared to be the beginning of a shallow crossing pattern as he completed a pass of maybe three yards to St. Brown. The former Notre Dame receiver took the ball on the left side of the line, crossed the field to the right, then turned the corner to write this 27-yard touchdown pass. It showed how offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has pitched in to create plays that feature the talents of his skill players.

St. Brown has 38 catches for 455 yards and three scores this season, as three of his games have allowed him to pass 100 yards in receptions, while picking up 12 yards per catch.

“He keeps making plays like that and he’s fun to play with,” explained Goff. “I can throw with anticipation to him and I can trust him to make a catch in traffic near the end of a game.”

Goff has regathered his focus in working to be an elite quarterback and he seems to have more concentration in pushing the Lions into solid areas. He feels like he is reading defenses better than at any other time in his career.

“We felt like the best way to move the football was to put it into his hands,” said Campbell. “We were protecting well up front and our receivers were finding ways to get open and we just felt like, ‘let’s put it on him,’ and he did a great job.”