The Detroit Lions did not shrink in the clutch on Sunday, due in part to working on the exact game-winning situation they had since training camp.
The Detroit Lions nearly pulled a loss from the jaws of victory again on Sunday, as the offense stagnated in the second half and Jared Goff turned the ball over twice. But Goff redeemed himself by leading a clutch final drive, as multiple players came through with situational awareness and with no timeouts left the offense moved with urgency.
The drive was of course capped by an 11-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who had a team-leading 10 catches for 86 yards in the game–including four grabs for 37 yards on the final drive.
The Vikings inexpicably played some sort of bail-out coverage around St. Brown on the final play, as cornerback Cam Dantzler and safety Xavier Woods covered the deeper part of the end zone, ceding the goal line.
The Lions were well-prepared to execute game-winning touchdown
After the game, Goff spoke about the winning play.
“I love the playcall,” “I knew we had a good fit play on with what they were doing defensively and Saint made a play. Saint got himself open and made a play. It was a special, special moment for us, obviously for our first one being that way. Ultimately, it’s, you know, we’re excited about it. But how do we keep this thing going?
“They were just playing off and soft, and we have a play that we’ve been running probably since training camp is that exact play. It’s for that exact situation. And a few weeks ago we actually switched it and put St. Brown as that guy that’s going to catch that ball in the game-winning situation. Sure enough, showed up.”
St. Brown said the Lions have repped the game-winning play in every Friday practice since training camp, and as Goff suggested the rookie receiver was only recently shifted to the far outside position in a three-receiver stack.
St. Brown talked about how the coaching staff constantly reminds players to make sure they catch the ball in the end zone in a game-ending situation. He also said it was “actually crazy” to see how Minnesota was playing coverage, which allowed him an easy path to the front of the end zone.
Plenty has not gone right for the Lions this season, and coaching shortcomings have come to the forefront at times. But preparation met execution in a clutch situation on Sunday, and it paid off with a mark in the win column.