Those expecting the Jahmyr Gibbs breakout game were left holding their breath. Even with the injury to Montgomery, Gibbs was still used fairly sparingly. He got more work as a receiver in this game, but he couldn't get much going on the ground.
Jack Campbell wasn’t overly noticeable in this game. One interesting point was the fact that he was occasionally lining up at EDGE in obvious pass-rush situations. It might be a bit before Campbell is a starter, but the Lions are trying to get him on the field in new ways.
Sam LaPorta has proven he is by far the best tight end on the roster. He was doing a fantastic job at holding onto the ball through contact. Additionally, he was consistently breaking tackles and gaining more yards after the catch than most tight ends would.
Brian Branch didn’t have a splash play like he did in Week 1, but he still had a positive game. He was on the wrong side of the game-winning touchdown, unable to keep up with Tyler Lockett. That being said his presence against the run and as a blitzer was impressive. And he is already one of the Lions’ better options in man coverage.
As for the other rookies, they didn’t play much. Antoine Green got on the field with the offense a little bit. Aside from him though there were no other meaningful contributions.
Needs improvement: Aaron Glenn
We are nearing territory where it’s becoming a legitimate question of whether or not Aaron Glenn is a good defensive coordinator. For every glimmer of hope over the past few years, there has been a game like this one.
Yes, the players deserve blame for failing to execute. However, at what point can you sit back and say the players weren’t put in a position to succeed? James Houston is a very good situational pass-rusher, so why is he being asked to cover an an athletic tight end like Noah Fant down the field in man coverage? Why are the Lions playing so much zone if they aren’t good at it?
To further that argument, the Lions found a diamond in the third round of last year's draft in Kerby Joseph. He has proved himself as a ball-hawking safety with range playing in single-high like Glenn favors. So why is he being asked to play in the slot close to the line of scrimmage? C.J. Gardner-Johnson is capable of playing that role, but one of the biggest reasons he was brought in was due to his ability to play in the slot and in the box.
It’s all just very confusing, and it seems like Glenn needs to take a step back and get back to basics with this defense. The Lions waited until they were 1-6 to make changes last year. They can’t afford to wait that long again.
Play of the game: Alex Anzalone’s 4th quarter sack
After an atrocious second-half performance by the defense, Detroit needed something. Quite literally any sort of stop. Down by three, in a third and long situation, the Lions could not afford to give up a big play. The secondary held up, the edge rushers generated pressure, and Alex Anzalone went in for the kill.
Unfortunately, the comeback effort fell short in overtime, but this play kept Detroit alive in the final moments.