So far this season the Detroit Lions have had a terrific red zone defense. They currently rank 3rd in the NFL by limiting opponents to scoring touchdowns on just 33% of red zone trips (5-15). In 2012 the Lions red zone defense gave up a touchdown just over 50% of the time. I first noticed the Lions red zone effectiveness during the Arizona game in week 2. The Lions were able to keep the game close despite a less than stellar offensive performance. They continually forced the Cardinals to kick field goals rather than touchdowns. Through the first quarter of the 2013 NFL season, over 50% of the games were decided by seven points or less — an NFL record. The fact is, that scoring touchdowns matters maybe now more than ever, and it’s important for defenses to limit those opportunities as much as possible.
The Lions found themselves in the same situation this past week against the Green Bay Packers as they did in week 2. The offense was without one of it’s star players and consequently struggled to put up points — only scoring three points through the first three quarters. Thankfully, the defense was able to keep Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense in check for most of the game. The Packers moved the ball up and down the field throughout the game, but when it came to the red zone, the Lions defense was able to tighten up and force field goals. If the Lions’ offense continues to struggle without Calvin Johnson, they are going to rely heavily on their defense to keep up their solid performance in the red zone.
Let’s take a look at the Packers first trip into the red zone last Sunday, and the five plays that show off the type of sound defense the Lions are playing right now.