The Detroit Lions (6-4) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) at Ford Field on Sunday by a score of 26-19. This was a league record 10th game decided by 7 points or less by the Lions. Let’s take a look how they won the game.
Detroit had offensive problems in this game. They only had one first down in their first five drives with five punts. Detroit also muffed a punt giving the Jaguars three free points early in the game.
However, Detroit played strong defense in the first half allowing only one TD drive (54 yard drive) and pressured Bortles for most of the first half. Detroit also forced a fumble by Chris Ivory and recovered as Jacksonville was driving.
Andre Roberts made up for his muff with a big punt return for a TD. Sam Martin had a great 61 yard punt which flipped field position. Detroit held for the 3 and out and Roberts got good blocking and had his 2nd punt return TD for the year. Detroit led 6-3 after a blocked Matt Prater extra point.
Jacksonville and Detroit traded punts but Jacksonville got good field position after both punts. The Jaguars marched 54 yards in 7 plays and Allen Robinson caught a 3 yard TD pass despite good coverage by Darius Slay. Jacksonville led 9-6.
Detroit’s offense woke up late in the second quarter. Detroit drove down the field with nice plays to Theo Riddick and Golden Tate. The drive stalled in the red zone and Detroit settled for a tying field goal at 9-9.
Stronger Second Half
Jacksonville has turnover issues and the Lions capitalized. Nevin Lawson made a great play early in the 3rd Quarter and tipped the ball to Rafael Bush. Bush made some nifty moves and returned the interception for a touchdown. Detroit led 16-9.
The Jaguars responded with a field goal drives. Jason Meyers hit a 52 yarder to cut the lead to 16-12.
Detroit got one first down but then was forced to punt. Jacksonville seized the momentum with a 9play 87 yard drive to take the lead. A 29 yard pass to Marquise Lee set up the touchdown beating Jonathan Banks. Marquise Lee beat Darius Slay on a jump ball for the TD. Jacksonville led 19-16 with 10 minutes to play.
Stafford responded with a 44 yard bullet to Andre Roberts. However, Golden Tate fumbled on the end around to even the turnovers at two apiece. Detroit’s defense held strong though forcing a 3 and out.
Finally, Detroit got a TD drive they desperately needed. Detroit facing a 3rd and 13 was able to convert with a 61 yard play to Eric Ebron. Ebron beat zone coverage as Stafford scrambled away from pressure on 3rd down. This was a huge play. Ebron ran it into the end zone two plays later for a 2 yard rushing score. Detroit led 23-19 and notched another comeback in the 4th.
Detroit’s defense rose up again by forcing another 3 and out. Detroit got the ball back with over 8 minutes left. Detroit and Stafford orchestrated a beautiful 15 play 7:57 drive with big first downs to Boldin, Riddick and a Jacksonville offside on 4th down. Prater hit a late field goal and the Lions led 26-19 with only 22 second left. Detroit got the late interception of Bortles by Tavon Wilson to seal the victory.
Detroit has a short week and a huge game at home on Thanksgiving. Detroit faces the Minnesota Vikings (6-4) for a battle for first place. If Detroit wins, they will essentially have a two game lead with five games to play. If Detroit loses, Minnesota will have the upper hand in the division.