The Detroit Lions did what? The Lions defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to the NFC Championship game against the 49ers!
The Detroit Lions returned to Ford Field for the 2nd straight week after defeating the Los Angeles Rams, hosting Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL Divisional Round. By the time it was all said and done, the Lions once again gave the fans who packed Ford Field an exciting finish and would emerge victorious by a 31-23 final score to advance to the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Lions wasted no time capitalizing on an errant throw from Baker Mayfield, as his pass was deflected and subsequently intercepted by C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Although the Lions couldn't convert the turnover into a touchdown, the play set the stage for a successful Michael Badgley field goal, providing Detroit with an early lead.
Tampa Bay promptly responded with a 43-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin. Despite their efforts, they were prevented from reaching the end zone, thanks in part to a crucial sack delivered by Brian Branch.
Detroit proceeded to advance down the field with an impressive 14-play, seven-minute drive. The drive reached its climax with a flawless pass from Jared Goff to Josh Reynolds, sealing the offensive effort with a touchdown.
Tampa Bay made significant progress up the field as Baker Mayfield connected with both Mike Evans and Rachaad White. Despite their efforts, they missed an opportunity to narrow Detroit's lead when Chase McLaughlin‘s 50-yard field goal attempt struck the upright, denying them crucial points.
Just before the end of the first half, the Buccaneers managed to level the game with a one-yard touchdown catch from Cade Otton. This scoring play marked the culmination of a seven-play, 92-yard drive, highlighted by 27 and 29-yard passes from Mayfield to Evans. The successful drive allowed Tampa Bay to tie the score as the first half concluded.
While neither team was able to garner much momentum in the 3rd quarter, the Lions would seize the advantage as time wound down. A 64-yard, 10-play drive culminated in a Craig Reynolds touchdown thanks to the Lions deciding to go for it on 4th-and-goal, another gutsy call from head coach Dan Campbell:
However, the response from the Bucs was immediate. Mayfield led Tampa Bay down the field on a 75-yard drive that resulted in his finding White in the end zone:
The good news for the Lions is that they began to impose their will in the final quarter and break away from the Bucs. Jahmyr Gibbs put on his Superman cape and rattled off a 31-yard touchdown run:
Not long afterward, Detroit would once again find the end zone thanks to a 10-play, 89-yard drive resulting in a 9-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown from Goff as time began to seriously become a factor:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had no intention of lying down and dying. Mayfield would make Lions fans nervous by throwing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Evans, cutting into Detroit's lead; their subsequent 2-point conversion attempt would be unsuccessful.
That's as far as Tampa Bay would get. The Lions would get a clutch interception with just under two minutes remaining from Derrick Barnes:
Time ticked away, and the Lions officially claimed victory to advance to the NFC Championship game.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- The Detroit Lions returned to Ford Field for the second time in as many weeks, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round postseason game with the winner advancing to battle the San Francisco 49ers.
- The Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers went back and forth on the scoreboard, with Detroit grabbing a two-touchdown lead in the 4th quarter
- The Lions would seal the victory with an interception of quarterback Baker Mayfield by Derrick Barnes, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to the NFC title game
Bottom Line: Only two more games to go!
Irrespective of the outcome of next week's game against the 49ers, the Lions have delivered a truly magical season that will be etched in the memories of fans for generations to come. This remarkable campaign has served as a beacon of hope, washing away years of suffering and creating a season that will be remembered as a turning point in the team's history, capped by today's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Lions will take on the 49ers at Levi Stadium next week, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.