Offensive explosion against Vikings keep playoff hopes alive for Detroit Lions

Lions head to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 11: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after defeating the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on December 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images) (Mike Mulholland, 2022 Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Detroit Lions keep rolling as their offense exploded in the 34-23 victory against the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings, keeping their playoff hopes alive.

With the victory, the Lions have won five of their last six games to improve to 6-7 on the season. The current stretch hasn’t been done since 2016, which was the last time they were in the playoffs, thanks to a collaborative effort from all three phases of the ball.

Jared Goff

Every orchestra needs a good conductor, and after watching Jared Goff orchestrate the Lions’ offense for 330 passing yards and three touchdowns, it’s safe to say Detroit has found its quarterback for the future.

Detroit Lions' Jared Goff thorws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Goff praised the offensive line for his performance Sunday (Dec. 11) as he considers them a force in the NFL.

“It’s really nice, man,” said Goff. “You look around the league, and you can see not every team is like that. I’m lucky to play behind them, and they’re a force right now. Logan (Stenberg) stepped up today and did a good job at right guard. So we were able to do a lot of things offensively that not many teams can do because of how good they are.”

Goff’s protection was great as they kept him upright for most of the game, but it was the soft hands of Penei Sewell that sealed the deal for the Lions.

“It doesn’t always get called, but I think that was the perfect scenario for it,” Goff said. “We wanted to kind of run those plays close to the goal line for touchdowns, but the scenario came up, which is similar when they’re going to load the box, and he got wide open, and it was pretty good.”

Receiving core

Goff connected with his receiving core early and often as the run game was stifled for most of the day. His 41-yard bomb to Jameson Williams not only ignited the rookie, but the early score made the fans erupt.

Williams caught one pass for one touchdown, which is why his kid-like celebration was one for the ages. After finding his father in the stands, he didn’t celebrate with his teammates. He celebrated with One Pride.

“It was his first one, and they kind of busted the coverage there,” Goff said. “I didn’t throw a very good ball as I was so shocked at how wide open it was. It kind of looked like I kicked it to him, but he caught it, touchdown nonetheless.”

Goff redialed long distance, but he connected with D.J. Chark on a 48-yard touchdown this time. Chark finished the day with a season-high six receptions for 94 yards and the score.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 11: DJ Chark #4 of the Detroit Lions scores a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on December 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Amon-Ra St. Brown finished six for 68, and Josh Reynolds added one of Goff’s three touchdowns on five catches for 51 yards.

Defense/Special Teams

The Lions’ defense showed up in moments as Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson was open for business Sunday. Cousins threw for 425 yards, while Jefferson set a franchise record for receiving yards in a single game with 223.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 11: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

But it was Aidan Hutchinson who recorded two sacks on Cousins, upping his total to seven, passing Kalimba Edwards (six and a half) for the fourth most sacks by a rookie in franchise history. Hutchinson is the first rookie to record seven sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery in Lions history as well.

Detroit’s defense forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter, but their offense also stalled on their first possession of the half. With the momentum teetering, Dan Campbell and his coaching staff surprised the division-leading Vikings and the fans when safety C.J. Moore caught the direct snap and scampered down the field for 42 yards.

“We come out in the third quarter, man, and we need a critical play on the punt team to shift the momentum back in our favor,” said Campbell. “Our punt team, it was spotless.”

Since the start of the season, the Lions’ offense has always been top-tier, but their defense would let go of the rope and cause them to lose their massive leads as they did against the Vikings in week five.

Read: Aggressive Detroit Lions blow 2 double-digit leads, extend road losing streak in defeat against Vikings

Now the team looks different, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as they’ve not allowed a 100-yard rusher in seven straight games, which includes Dalvin Cook, who finished the game with 15 carries for 23 yards and a touchdown.

The league and the NFL world need the Lions back into the playoffs, and with the way their schedule is lining up down the stretch and the way they’re playing on all three phases, the once daunting task is looking more feasible.

The Lions are rolling in the right direction, especially their offense, as they’ve tied a franchise record for the longest streak of 25+ points per game with five in a row. But next up will be a trip to MetLife Stadium to face the 7-6 New York Jets. Can Detroit keep the good times rolling, or are they in a rude awakening?

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.