The Detroit Lions will not post the second winless season in modern franchise history.
After tallying 10 losses and a tie in their first 11 games, the Lions joined the rest of the NFL in the win column on Sunday with a thrilling 29-27 upset of the Minnesota Vikings. The win marks the first for rookie head coach Dan Campbell and fends off the ignominy of becoming the first NFL franchise with two winless seasons since 1945. The 0-16 2008 Lions are one of five NFL teams to post winless records since 1960.
The Lions secured the victory on a 14-play, 75-yard drive in the final 1:50, capped by a Jared Goff touchdown to Amon-Ra St. Brown as time expired.
The walkoff score secured a victory that the Lions appeared to blow with a fourth-down gamble that went spectacularly wrong earlier in the fourth quarter.
Lions almost blew it
While holding a 23-21 lead with 4:08 remaining, the Lions faced fourth-and-1 at their own 28-yard line. Quarterback Jared Goff faked a handoff to running back Jamaal Williams before rolling out to his right. He was immediately met by blitzing linebacker Blake Lynch, who didn't bite on the play fake. Goff dodged him, but Lynch recovered for a strip sack to take over possession at Detroit's 19-yard line.
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2021
Six plays later, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins found Justin Jefferson in the end zone for a touchdown to take a 27-23 lead. But Goff and the Lions didn't blink with a chance to rally and gave Lions fans their first reason to celebrate in 2021.
Bad loss for Vikings
The touchdown was Goff's third on the day as he picked up his first win since joining the Lions in an offseason trade from the Los Angeles Rams. He finished completing 25 of 41 pass attempts for 296 yards while adding an interception and the late fumble that almost proved very costly.
But the Lions picked up the win despite being outgained on offense 426 yards to 372 and turning the ball over twice compared a lone Vikings giveaway. Minnesota settled for field goals twice after driving inside Detroit's 20-yard line and turned the ball over on downs late in the first half, allowing Detroit to extend its lead to 20-6 with a Riley Patterson field goal with six seconds remaining in the half.
The loss dropped the Vikings to 5-7 and delivered a blow to their long-shot playoff hopes as questions continue to swirl around the franchise's long-term outlook.
Lions dedicate win to Oxford shooting victims
After the game, Campbell dedicated the game ball to the Oxford, Michigan community and the victims of the shooting that left four dead last week at Oxford High School.
Coach Campbell dedicated today's game ball to the Oxford community. pic.twitter.com/kcC2zQ3IVt
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 5, 2021
"This game ball goes to the Oxford community, all those who were affected," Campbell said while reading off the names of shooting victims including Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling, who all suffered fatal injuries in the mass shooting.
"Those names will never be forgotten. They're in our hearts and our prayers and all the families — not to mention all those that were affected by all of this."