So, this is what winning football feels like, huh? The Detroit Lions Week 11 dismantling of the New York Giants was a sight to behold, and felt really, really, really, really (okay one too many) good. The Lions came into East Rutherford, New Jersey looking to win three games in a row for the first time in five years, and left East Rutherford having done just that. They were stellar on both sides of the football and should be aptly commended, and celebrated, for their efforts. There are specific things that can definitely be taken away from a game like today.
The Detroit Lions Week 11 #1: this victory showed us a capable football team:
Firing on all cylinders is an appropriate way to describe the team that took the field on Sunday afternoon. They ran the ball well, Jared Goff threw the ball decently, the special teams were good, and the defense was possessed. Add all of that up and you have a team that can actually play competent football. The three-game winning streak has all but erased the pitiful start this team got off to in their first seven games.
The biggest thing that can be taken away from this whole series of events that's transpired since the Green Bay game, is the corner that the Lions seemed to have turned. Through the first number of weeks, they failed to put together a complete football game; either the offense was lights out but the defense couldn't tackle anyone, or vice versa. These last three weeks, culminating in the defense's coming out party in Week 11, have made this team a more complete team, and dare I say, fun to watch.
There's buy-in from Dan Campbell's players, you can sense it. What he's preached, though oft-times confusingly, seems to be getting through. They were physical against the Giants, and imposed their will, the exact team that Dan Campbell preached they'd be when he said, “we'll tread water until we bury you.” [cue Jason Cabinda's bulging eyes}
Detroit Lions Week 11 takeaway #2: This defense is improving
Aaron Glenn has been oft-maligned, and for good reason, this season. His early-season swiss cheese schemes left the Lions with losses in games they should have won. And earlier in the week, when you thought about this team stopping Saqon Barkley, you shuddered. He came into the game as the NFL's leading rusher, and the Lions' rush defense was abominable, to say the least. That script was flipped on Sunday in East Rutherford.
God love 'em, but the Giants tried to stick with their game plan. They fed Barkley the ball 15 times for a whopping 22 yards. By far his worst performance in a long, long time. But, they did exactly what you have to do against the Giants, make Daniel Jones beat you. Whenever you force Daniel Jones to throw the ball 44 times, you've put yourself in a good position to win, and that's exactly what the Lions did.
Sunday's performance was the best performance by this Lions' defense all season. Alim McNeil was a beast, Aidan Hutchinson continued to prove why he was the number two overall pick in last year's draft, and even with a hurt Jeff Okudah, the secondary stepped up to create plays and make things happen. It's a sight for sore eyes, let me tell ya.
Detroit Lions Week 11 takeaway #3: Jamaal Williams is the MAN!
Do you want to talk about a man possessed? His name is Jamaal Williams. Even more so, when the ball is below the ten-yard line and pay dirt is in sight. He has not only stepped up for the oft-injured D'Andre Swift, but has done so to the tune of 12 rushing touchdowns, which leads the league, and puts him in the class of Lions' royalty with Barry Sanders and Billy Sims, as the only Lions running backs to ever have more than 11 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Jamaal has had a great season, all started with his impassioned speech on HBO's Hard Knocks. But, don't let him fool you, Jamaal Williams (his name always has to be said in full for some reason) doesn't just talk the talk, this man lets his play on the field back it up. He is this team's leader and should starting putting the league on notice for a Pro Bowl Selection.