Matthew Silka, Staff Writer
Lions’ rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson celebrates a sack. Photo//Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Lions welcomed the newly renamed Washington Commanders for a home bout on Sunday. Coming off a loss against the NFC East favorite Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions were determined to bounce back with a victory.
….and so they did!
The Lions looked nearly unstoppable in the first half on Sunday, cruising out to a 22-0 halftime lead behind stellar play from the defense as well as QB Jared Goff and the offense.
The Lions opened the game on a quick 3-and-out drive, swiftly giving the Commanders the ball back. However, Detroit returned the favor on a Washington opening drive as rookie standout Aidan Hutchinson collected his first sack of his promising NFL career.
Detroit came back with a field goal, and got the ball again after another good defensive stop. After a long drive to the goal line, the Lions went for it on fourth-and-three but could not convert, turning the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing drive, however, Charles Harris was able to punch the ball out from Commanders’ QB Carson Wentz, which rolled out of the end zone resulting in a safety.
Washington punted the ball back to Detroit, and Goff was able to take advantage of the good field position by finding Amon-Ra St. Brown in the back of the end zone for the 12-0 lead.
Goff led the team down the field again on the following possession for a field goal to make it 15-0. The Lions defense made another stop thanks to another Hutchinson sack, allowing the Lions to get the ball back. Detroit later scored another touchdown, this time being Goff to Josh Reynolds.
Detroit finished the half off with more good defense and was able to go into the break with a three score lead, 22-0.
The second half started out with a great Washington drive as Wentz was able to find rookie WR Jahan Dotson for a long gain, and then fellow receiver Curtis Samuel for a touchdown to make things 22-7.
After a few stops by both teams, Wentz was able to lead the Commanders down the field again, finding tight end Logan Thomas for a 20-yard score. After a two-point conversion, it was 22-15.
Feeling the lead slipping away, Detroit decided to pull a trick play that allowed St. Brown to rush for 58 yards, deep into Commanders’ territory. D’Andre Swift capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the year, making it 29-15 Detroit.
The Commanders were in a hurry to get back into the game, and they did just that. Taking advantage of short injury absences from Hutchinson and Jeff Okudah, Washington marched down the field in the early fourth quarter. Running back Antonio Gibson was able to punch the ball in from a yard out to make the game 29-21, preceding a failed two-point attempt.
With the lead slipping away once again, Goff delivered another huge drive. He eventually found St. Brown in the end zone for his second touchdown of the day, increasing the lead to 15 points with seven minutes to go.
Washington would manage to score again, but it was not enough as the resilient Lions held on to win 36-27 in front of a massive home crowd.
Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown making multiple defenders miss. Photo//Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press
While the Lions’ defense looked rough in the second half, their strong first half performance along with Detroit’s stellar offense carried them to a narrow victory.
St. Brown had a career day, finishing with nine catches for 116 yards, 68 yards rushing, and two touchdowns. Swift also had a great day on limited work, adding 56 rushing yards as well as 2 catches and a touchdown. Goff was incredible behind center, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns with zero turnovers.
The Detroit Lions (1-1) ought to be feeling confident after grabbing a huge home win. They will attempt to continue the momentum next week against the Minnesota Vikings (1-1) in a contest that could determine who leads the NFC North in the early part of the year.