The Lions have lost a lot of close games over Jared Goff's two seasons in Detroit. Now that they're starting to win them, their confidence is growing like a weed. They showed up in the swamps of New Jersey last Sunday, cattails swirling in the air, and "walked into that stadium expecting to win," said Goff.
And that's what they did in a 31-18 pounding of the New York Giants, one of the top teams in the NFC.
"Really walked onto that field and felt the energy of them and us and had no doubts that we should handle that game the way we did," Goff said Tuesday on 97.1 The Ticket. "Certainly our defense with three turnovers makes it easy on our offense, but we had a great plan for what they were doing and really attacked them. They’re in that attacking mindset on defense with what they do and we took it to them a little bit. It felt good at the end there."
It feels good right now in Allen Park. The Lions, you might've heard, have won three straight for the first time in five years and have clawed back into the NFC playoff race ahead of a Thanksgiving clash with the Bills. They are officially "in the hunt," as the graphics will tell you, two games back of the 6-4 Seahawks for the final wild card spot with seven games to go.
"It’s a completely different feeling. It gives you a whole lot more to play for," said Goff. "You’re not just playing for pride or playing for yourself or anything like that. You’re playing for your teammates and you’re playing for something greater than you. Whenever you can have that feeling around the building, it certainly brings the morale up a little bit and brings guys to maybe push a little harder in certain situations."
The Lions have been pushing hard under Dan Campbell for the past two season. It left them with a pile of heartbreaking losses last year, including a few at the buzzer. This year, it's starting to pay off. This is the power of momentum. The Lions have gone from believing they can win, to believing they will. From trying to close out games, to actually closing them out.
They built a 17-6 halftime lead last Sunday and cruised to a 31-18 win. Goff is right: there was never much of a doubt.
"The guys that we have in this locker room, we’ve been forged through adversity. And it’s a hard thing to break now," said Goff. "When you’ve got a group that’s been forged the way we have, it’s been through tough times. A lot of teams have been forged through good times and ours is a little bit stronger, I believe."
Thursday brings their biggest test yet. The Lions can validate their win streak by taking down the Super Bowl favorites. They stemmed the bleeding at 1-6. They have caused a stir. They can make a statement on Thanksgiving, with the playoffs out there in the distance.
"We keep winning, I’m sure it’ll become very real for us, but we got a ways to go still," said Goff. "We’re aware of where we’re at and what we need to do."