Brian Gornick, Sports Editor
Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) celebrates a touchdown. Photo//Mike Ehrmann.
The NFC North-leading Detroit Lions were flying high after a 42-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers last week. This past Sunday they went on the road to face off against the 3-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were on top of their division, the NFC South.
A match up of two teams currently projected to make the playoffs at the top of their divisions was set to make quite the spectacle, and they did not look to disappoint. Through the first first weeks, the Lions offense has been firing on all cylinders, being top 10 in passing yards per game, rushing yards per game, and scoring.
Much of their success can be attributed to the man at the helm, quarterback Jared Goff. Goff has picked up his success from last season, passing through six weeks for just over 1,600 yards with 11 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Goff is playing statistically like a top five quarterback through this stretch of games, and the offense runs through him.
The Lions defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Last year, the defense was one of the statistically worse units in the NFL, but this year they have flipped the script. While the Lions are around league average in passing yards per game given up, their defense is leading the NFL in allowing only 64.7 yards per game rushing.
The Buccaneers defense was the main challenge for the Lions going into the game, joining the Lions statistically in the top ten in the NFL for both rushing yards per game allowed and points per game.
This battle of top ten defenses did not disappoint in the beginning of the game. After the Lions won the coin toss and deferred, the Buccaneers and Lions traded possessions. On the Buccaneers second offensive possession of the game, defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs tipped a pass by quarterback Baker Mayfield which was intercepted by defensive back Will Harris.
This interception put the Lions in prime scoring position, but the stout Bucs defense held the Lions to a field goal. What followed was back and forth possessions by both teams, leaving the score 3-0 Lions at the end of the first quarter.
The Buccaneers tied the game in the second quarter, going on a nine-play drive for 43 yards that was capped off with a 33-yard field goal. The Lions responded on the very next drive, going 75 yards down the field for a touchdown pass from Goff to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Buccaneers failed to score on their last drive of the half, with the Lions leading 10-3 at halftime.
The scoring picked up as both teams came out of halftime. The Lions started the half with the ball, but failed to convert that drive into points after kicker Riley Patterson missed a 52-yard field goal that went wide right. The Lions lead was cut to four points the following drive by the Buccaneers, who kicked a 36-yard field goal to end their first offensive drive of the third quarter.
The Buccaneers failed to score the rest of the game, and the Lions took advantage of this inability to move up the field from the Bucs offense. Goff launched a 45-yard pass down the field on the following drive to second-year wide receiver Jameson Williams for a touchdown. In his second game back from his gambling suspension that took him out of the first four games of the season, Williams' catch was a prime opportunity for development.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) and Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) talk after the game. Photo//Mike Ehrmann.
A Lions field goal to bring the score to 20-6 ended the scoring for the day, bringing the Lions record to 5-1 on the season. With this win, the Lions further solidified themselves on the top of the NFC North, with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings at second and third respectively in the division with two wins.
The Lions will look to further their lead on the division against another team on top of their division, traveling on the road to face the Baltimore Ravens scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. on October 22.