The Detroit Lions did what? Lions win game but lose key players in regular-season finale
The Detroit Lions returned to Ford Field for their last home game of the 2023 regular season today, facing the Minnesota Vikings, whom they triumphed over two weeks ago. That victory secured their NFC North Division champions' status for the first time in franchise history, marking their first division title in 30 years. Today, the Lions took care of business once again, winning the game 30-20 to move to 12-4 on the season.
The Lions initiated the scoring on their 2nd offensive drive of the 1st quarter, accompanied by a lighthearted moment. The announcement of Dan Skipper registering as an eligible receiver drew enthusiastic cheers from the attending fans. This reaction, likely fueled by lingering frustration from the previous week's controversy against the Dallas Cowboys, added a playful touch to the game.
Quarterback Jared Goff swiftly targeted tight end Sam LaPorta in the end zone for LaPorta's 10th touchdown of the year, setting a new NFL record for receptions by a rookie tight end. LaPorta's 81st catch in the season surpassed Keith Jackson's record, marking the most receptions by a rookie tight end in NFL history.
Soon, the Lions would be able to add to their lead thanks to a downfield pass from Goff to Kalif Raymond, setting up a 3-yard run from Jahmyr Gibbs:
Lions fans collectively held their breath when LaPorta suffered an injury. With team trainers' assistance, he gingerly walked to the sidelines before entering the blue medical tent. LaPorta was subsequently labeled questionable to return. (He was eventually ruled OUT)
Following a massive gain for Minnesota's Justin Jefferson to set up a Vikings 1st-and-10 at the Lions 22-yard line, Aidan Hutchinson came through in the clutch with a sack on quarterback Nick Mullens.
Strong defensive play by the Lions limited the Minnesota Vikings to a pair of field goals in the first half, the extent of their scoring.
Halftime Score: Lions 13, Vikings 6
The injury problems for the Lions continued into the 3rd quarter, as safety Brian Branch would be ruled questionable to return with a wrist injury.
Midway through the 3rd, the Lions once again found the end zone, as David Montgomery powered his way through Minnesota defenders for the touchdown to cap the nine-play, 71-yard drive that was powered by passes from Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Shortly afterward, Levi Onwuzurike came through with his first sack of the season on a Vikings third-and-two opportunity and was greeted at the sidelines by defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn with a tight hug.
The Vikings had no intention of fading away, however. Late in the quarter, Jefferson made it a one-score game with an impressive 38-yard touchdown reception.
In doing so, Jefferson became the 3rd player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in 10 or fewer games, joining Wes Chandler and Jim Benton.
The Lions got even more bad injury news shortly into the game's final frame, as wide receiver Kalif Raymond suffered a knee injury, limped to the sidelines, and would soon be declared out for the remainder of the game.
Subsequent completions from Goff to Josh Reynolds and James Mitchell would set the stage for a 39-yard field goal by Michael Badgley, increasing Detroit's lead.
But just as there was two weeks ago, it was another wobbly interception thrown by Mullens that would seal the Vikings' fate. Cam Sutton picked off Mullens as Minnesota was threatening with just minutes remaining in regulation:
The icing on the cake this afternoon was C.J. Gardner-Johnson hauling in an interception in his first game back from injury:
With the loss, the Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from a chance at the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lions are officially 12-5 heading into the postseason.
FINAL SCORE: Detroit Lions 30, Minnesota Vikings 20
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- The Detroit Lions did what? They hosted the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field this afternoon in the 2023 regular-season finale.
- The Lions would prevail by a 30-20 final score, but it came with a cost as both Sam LaPorta and Kalif Raymond departed the game with injuries and did not return.
- The victory by the Lions eliminated the Vikings from playoff contention and secured an impressive record of 12-5 for the 2023 season.
Bottom Line: Next stop – the postseason!
There will likely be significant speculation about head coach Dan Campbell's decision to feature key players like LaPorta and Raymond in today's lineup. Their absence in Detroit's upcoming playoff game could pose a substantial setback for the team.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere at Ford Field next week is expected to be incredibly charged as the franchise aims for its first playoff victory since the 1991 season. The official opponent has yet to be determined.