The Detroit Lions are coming off of their first winning season since 2017, going 9-8 and just narrowly missing out on the final Wild Card spot in the NFC in 2022. However, the optimism about last year was going to be put to the ultimate test in the opener, as they had to travel to Kansas City on Thursday night to face the defending champs on banner night for the Chiefs.
After both teams stalled out on their opening drives, it appeared the Lions would go 3-and-out for the second consecutive drive after throwing short of the sticks on third down, setting up a 4th and 2 from their own 17 yard line. As every team does in that situation, the Lions trotted out their punt unit, but Dan Campbell is among the most aggressive coaches in the NFL when it comes to running fakes and going for it on 4th down, and he was able to catch the Chiefs just enough off guard with a snap to the upback to pick up the first down.
That three yard gain was enough to kickstart the Detroit offense that had been stuck in neutral to begin the game, as Jared Goff finally found a rhythm throwing the ball, Jahmyr Gibbs picked up the first big gain of his career, and Amon-Ra St. Brown capped off the drive with a touchdown catch on a crossing route over the middle on third down in the red zone.
It’s not often you see teams go for it deep in their own territory, but against a Chiefs team that often moves the ball at will, stealing a possession against conventional wisdom can be the type of thing that can flip a game. In this case, the Lions capitalized on their coach’s aggression and seemed buoyed by that confidence in them to keep the drive alive, marching for the season’s first touchdown and taking an early lead on the defending champs.