The losses are in the rearview for Jared Goff and the Lions, and that's where they'd like to leave them. Asked Tuesday what's prevented this team from winning more games than it has, Goff was quick to reply, "We've won two in a row and I’ll talk about those as much as you want, my man."
Yes they have. The Detroit Lions have won two in a row for the first time in Goff's tenure as quarterback. They have won as many division games in the last two weeks under Dan Campbell as they did in three seasons under Matt Patricia. At 3-6, they have pulled themselves within shouting distance of a playoff spot ahead of a crucial game Sunday against the 7-2 Giants.
"Got a little momentum going after two in a row and our first road win," Goff said on 97.1 The Ticket. "Feel like we can do some damage now."
Momentum comes and goes like the tide. We'll see how long this wave lasts for the Lions. But they have clawed out of last place in the NFC North and are two games back in the NFC playoff race, albeit with five teams ahead of them for the final berth. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, there's a football season worth watching again in Detroit.
Which is a whole lot more than the 0-8-1 Lions could say at this time last year.
"We’re tremendously better," said Goff. "Obviously, we have as many wins as we did (all of) last year and certainly feel like we should have had three wins before right now. But our roster is better, our offense is playing better, our defense is playing better. We have sound football going on, a lot of stuff that typically leads to wins that we’ve been doing a lot better this year."
The biggest change in Detroit's two-game surge is a defense coming up with clutch stops. Even while yielding nearly 800 total yards of offense, the Lions have gotten off the field with the game on the line in back to back weeks. That's growth, especially on the part of their younger players. That's how you gain ground in the one-score NFL.
"It just took a handful of games for it to click for them and I think these last two weeks you’ve seen it," said Goff. "You’ve seen the confidence they play with, you see the pass rush we’re getting up front that's allowing our DB’s to play a little more confidently. It all goes together, man. It’s a team sport and a team game and it takes all 11 on both sides of the ball.
"Right now, we're finding ways to win. It's not always pretty, but some of these teams with six, seven, eight wins right now, they’re not always pretty either. It’s just stacking one game at a time. We have two right now and trying to make it three."
As the defense begins to find its legs, Detroit's offense is settling back into a groove. Despite a couple choppy games on either side of their Week 6 bye, the Lions still rank fifth in the NFL in yards per play. The other top-10 teams in yards per play are a combined 51-34, all but two of whom are currently in the playoffs. If the NFL's worst defense trends toward something closer to average and continues making a couple key stops per game, Goff might be right: the Lions are poised to do some damage.
Another road win Sunday against the Giants would serve as notice ahead of a Thanksgiving clash with Josh Allen and the Bills.
"When we were 1-6 a couple weeks ago, we were looking at it like we need to start stacking them," said Goff. "Certainly, against a good team at their place, being able to get a win against a team of their caliber right now will be good for us. It would be our third in a row and some pretty good momentum for us."
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