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July 18, 2024

Lions Topple Defending Champs Rams in Dramatic Playoff Upset

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Jan 16, 2024

In one of the biggest upsets in recent NFL playoff history, the Detroit Lions defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 24-23 on Sunday night to advance to the divisional round. Led by quarterback Jared Goff against his former team, the Lions won their first playoff game since 1992 in dramatic fashion in front of a raucous home crowd at Ford Field.

Lead Up to the Game

Very few expected the Lions to even reach the playoffs this season after finishing with a losing record the past four years. However, second year head coach Dan Campbell helped lead a remarkable turnaround as the Lions went 10-7 to claim one of the NFC’s wild card spots.

Meanwhile, the Rams entered the playoffs looking to defend their Super Bowl title from last season. The preseason favorites to win it all again finished with a 12-5 record and were led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, who Detroit traded away just two seasons ago. Sunday night’s game marked Stafford’s highly anticipated return to Detroit.

Team Record Previous Playoff Appearance
Detroit Lions 10-7 2016

| Los Angeles Rams | 12-5 | Won Super Bowl LVI (2022)

Most saw this as a chance for the Rams and Stafford to avenge the trade and crush the hopes of the franchise that gave up on the veteran QB. The Lions did defeat the Rams in the regular season, but Los Angeles was missing several key players in that matchup including Stafford.

Oddsmakers installed the Rams as heavy 7.5 point favorites on the road. However, from the start Detroit looked determined to protect its home field and prove it belonged.

First Half Recap

The Lions set an immediate tone, forcing a Rams three-and-out to start the game. On their first possession, Goff methodically drove Detroit down the field, overcoming two offensive holding penalties before hitting DJ Chark for a 16-yard touchdown. Detroit led 7-0 five minutes into the action.

Los Angeles responded with a field goal drive, but the Lions had an answer as running back Jamaal Williams plowed through the Rams defense for a 21-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

Clinging to a 14-3 lead, Detroit’s defense made a massive goal line stand at the one-yard line, stuffing Cam Akers for no gain on fourth-and-goal to turn away the Rams. However, Los Angeles forced a three-and-out and quickly drove for a Kupp touchdown reception to cut it to 14-10.

Detroit regained a two score lead right before halftime when Goff found rookie tight end James Mitchell wide open for a 22-yard score. The Lions took a 21-10 lead into the break as Ford Field rocked.

Key Stats 1st Half
Total Yards Lions 203, Rams 192
Turnovers Lions 0, Rams 1
Time of Possession Lions 18:26, Rams 11:34

The Lions dominated the first half stats including a nearly 7 minute advantage in time of possession. Most stunningly, Detroit did not commit a single turnover or penalty after leading the league in both categories during the regular season.

Meanwhile, Stafford struggled against the fired up Lions defense in his return to Detroit. The Rams QB completed just 11 of 18 passes for 94 yards with a costly interception.

Second Half Drama

The Rams offense finally woke up coming out of halftime. Stafford led back-to-back touchdown drives of 75+ yards, hitting Kupp and then Akers for scores to give Los Angeles its first lead at 20-21.

But the Lions responded once again, with Goff engineering a clutch fourth quarter field goal drive to tie it up 23-23 with just over four minutes remaining.

After forcing another Rams punt, Detroit got the ball back with a chance to win. Goff confidently drove the Lions down the field to set up a potential game winning field goal.

With only 45 seconds left, normally reliable kicker Michael Badgley lined up for a 39-yard try to give Detroit a dramatic victory. But the kick sailed wide left – forcing overtime for the first time in NFL Super Wild Card weekend history.

Key Stats End of Regulation
Total Yards Lions 377, Rams 386
First Downs Lions 24, Rams 18
Turnovers Lions 0, Rams 1
Time of Possession Lions 35:19 , Rams 26:04

Lions Finish the Job in Overtime

The Lions won the overtime coin toss but were forced to punt after an initial first down. Fortunately, the defense held strong with the aid of a key Rams offensive holding penalty.

Detroit got the ball back again at their own 40-yard line after a short Los Angeles punt. Needing any score to win, Goff stayed patient and took what the defense gave him. Williams and running mate D’Andre Swift continually gashed the Rams on the ground to move the chains.

With both fanbases on pins and needles, Badgley redeemed himself by nailing a 28-yarder to finally end it after Williams powered the Lions into range. Detroit escaped with an exhilarating 24-23 victory, the franchise’s first in the postseason since January 5, 1992.

Key Stats Final
Total Yards Lions 422, Rams 386
First Downs Lions 29, Rams 18
Turnovers Lions 0, Rams 1
Time of Possession Lions 43:19, Rams 31:17

Jared Goff was the clear star of the game, outplaying his counterpart Stafford while efficiently leading the Lions offense. The former #1 overall pick completed 21/30 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns without a turnover.

Meanwhile, Stafford’s struggles continued as he threw a costly first half interception and nearly had another in overtime. The veteran QB finished with just 243 yards on 28 attempts.

Looking Ahead

The Lions will travel to face the #1 seeded Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday afternoon in the NFC divisional round. While Detroit clearly showed they can compete with anyone, beating Philadelphia on the road will be a far greater challenge.

Still, Dan Campbell’s team will enter brimming with confidence after such an emotional victory. The coach gave an impassioned locker room speech after the dramatic win over Los Angeles, vowing this was “just the beginning” for his Lions.

Few believed Detroit had any chance of making noise in this postseason prior to Sunday night’s thriller. But now the long suffering franchise and its fans have something they’ve desperately craved for over three decades: a playoff game to build on and a reason to hope moving forward. And maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of an improbable Cinderella postseason run.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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