Same Old Lions No More

Photo Courtesy of Pride of Detroit

Photo Courtesy of Pride of Detroit

Erica Proctor, Sports Editor

In the city of Detroit during this day and age, it’s common to see our pro-sports teams have an upsetting end to their season. For the past decades all Detroit teams have failed to be very successful, and impress their waiting fans itching for something good to happen. But, this football season those true fans were given hope, as the Detroit Lions made a run that was unlike the same old Lions.

In the first half of the season it looked as if the season was already over, and we started looking to next year. The Lions ranked towards or at the bottom in NFL team stats in pretty much every category. Averaging 24 points per game, and having one of the worst defenses giving up 400 yards on average per game.

With their struggles they started off their first seven games with a 1-6 record, living up to their usual expectations. Although the Lions came up short by a few points in a lot of their early games, they continued to disappoint, with their only win coming from beating the Washington Commanders 36-27 in week two. Though the Lions were off to a discouraging start, head coach Dan Campbell and crew didn’t give up.

Once the trade deadline hit mid-season that’s when the Lions started turning things around. Second year Lions quarterback Jared Goff brought out his talent and gave life to the offensive side of the game. He led the team to a much needed victory against the Green Bay Packers at home winning 15-7. The winning streak kept going and two more victories came in the following weeks against the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants.

The Lions sat at 4-6 going into Thanksgiving week before taking on Josh Allen and top AFC team the Buffalo Bills. It’s been a tradition since 1945 for the Lions to play on Thanksgiving day at Ford Field. Fans were hopeful that the Lions might win on this day for the first time since 2016. The match up ended up being close and tough, but the Lions came up just short with a last minute Bills field goal, losing 28-25.

Although it was an unfortunate loss the Lions did not stop their play and got back to winning games. They picked up three straight victories in their following three games including big wins against the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. At this point the Lions were 7-7 and in the picture to possibly make the playoffs. They had to win the rest of their final three games to guarantee a playoff spot. Though with all the excitement on recent events, the Lions took a hard loss to the Carolina Panthers putting them at 7-8. Fortunately all the other teams in the hunt for the playoffs also lost their games that weekend, so hope remained alive. The next week they bounced back and got a needed win against the Chicago Bears.

After an emotional roller coaster of a journey it came down to the final week of the regular season. The Lions, Packers, and Seahawks all sat at 8-8, fighting down to the wire for the final wild card playoff spot in the NFC. For the Lions to make it through they needed for the Seahawks to lose their game against current super bowl champs, the Los Angeles Rams, and beat the Packers later that night. The lions had the least likely chance of making it compared to the other two, but still were going to give it their all. All Lions fans had their attention caste on these two games, hoping for a miracle. Since the Seahawks played their game before the Lions, fans and players would already know the fate of the lions before they took the field. The score was very close the whole game and even went into overtime after Seattle missed a game winning field goal. After a hard fought battle by the Rams they lost in overtime 19-16. Lions fans were heartbroken as their team could no longer make it to the playoffs. Shortly after, the Lions took the field to play their now last game of the season. Most believed at this point they would get blown out since the disappointing news. On top of that all the Packers needed to do to get into the playoffs was beat the Lions. Now all fans and players switched to a “we can’t get in so you can’t get in” mindset, and take away the Packers playoff dreams. Even though playoffs were out of the picture these incentives still drove the Lions to hard fought victory winning 20-16. They left everything on the field and proved a lot of people wrong finishing 9-8 on their season with their first winning record since 2017.

“I don’t want to hear that anymore, the same old Lions,’” said Lions head coach Dan Campbell during a post game interview. “That’s what this is all about. There’s so many things and it all comes with winning, but I wanted to be a part of building a brand new brand.”

The Lions had a talented roster that got to showcase their talents this season. Quarterback Jared Goff went into his second season with the lions after trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams in 2021. After the downfall in the first half of the season the Lions relied on an improved offense and Goff to take care of the football. Towards the end of the season Goff even openly admitted that he thought he was playing the best football of his entire career at that point.

“He’s one of the biggest reasons we even got this turnaround, just with his decision-making and taking care of the football,” Campbell said about Goff in a post game interview. Goff made his turn around becoming one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league ending the season with 4,438 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. One of his most impressive stats being that he only threw seven interceptions with none of them coming from his last nine games. For Goff to have all his yards he needed a target, and his best one came from second year wide receiver Amon-Ra St Brown. This season St Brown stepped up for the team on offense completing passes for 1,161 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 11 yards a catch. He ranks 7th in the NFL for most receptions with 106. Another key player for the Lions was running back Jamal Williams. He had a record breaking year where he ran for 1,066 yards and had 17 rushing touchdowns, breaking former Lions hall of fame running back Barry Sanders record of 16.

“I’m grateful to be able to play the game of football. I’m proud to be a Detroit Lion” Williams told CBS sports
The Detroit Lions came out of the 2022 with one of the top draft classes and those rookies showcased their talent for their first season. Defensive end out of Michigan, Aidan Hutchinson gave fans hopeful expectations after his outstanding college season. Hutchinson was selected second overall by the lions and was projected to make an impact wherever he went. At the end of the season he had 34 solo tackles and 9.5 sacks becoming one of the best defensive players for the Lions. With his sacks combined with the other rookies it adds to 20.5 sacks which leads the NFL and sets the all time record for most rookie sacks in a season. Hutchinson also had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Other defensive rookie Kerby Joseph was also a providing factor of the Lions defense with 55 tackles on the season along with 4 interceptions, becoming the first rookie since 1986 to do so. Other impactful rookies included linebacker James Houstan, and wide receiver Jameson Williams, who got to make his NFL debut in the middle of the season after tearing his ACL playing for Alabama in the college football playoffs.

“Be smart, be safe. I don’t want to go to any funerals” said Campbell to his team before heading into the off season. After a successful season fans are excited to see where the Lions go into the off season and back into next year, and hopefully not have “the same old Lions.”