FIRST DOWN: GUTSY CALL
Sunday was one of those games where the last team to have the football was probably going to win – and Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell knew it.
With one minute and 47 seconds left on the clock and the Lions facing a 4th and 2 at the Los Angeles 26-yard line, instead of kicking the go-ahead field goal and taking the lead with under two minutes left, Campbell put the game in the hands of quarterback Jared Goff and the offense.
It was a gamble, but an understandable one.
"Going into that situation there's going to be a lot of time left," Campbell said after the game. "I just wanted to finish with the ball in our hands. I liked where we were offensively. We were playing good, and Goff was in a good spot. I felt like that was the right thing to do.
"Some say it's a boneheaded move and some say it's not and I made the decision. And I stick by that decision."
Goff found rookie tight end Sam LaPorta over the middle for a six-yard gain and a first down at the Chargers' 20-yard line. The conversion allowed the Lions to milk the rest of the clock and end the game on a Riley Patterson 41-yard field goal.
Los Angeles had scored on five straight possessions leading up to that point and Campbell trusted his offense to get the first down and end it with the ball in their possession.
"I mean, I don't know how many coaches are going to go for that in that situation," Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said after the game. "Hats off to him."
SECOND DOWN: RUNNING BACK DUO
What we saw Sunday in Los Angeles was the vision Campbell and the Lions had for their backfield when they signed veteran David Montgomery in free agency and selected rookie Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.
Montgomery and Gibbs combined for 193 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Lions racked up 200 yards on the ground while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Gibbs has really found his comfort level halfway through his first season. Montgomery was back after missing the last two games with a rib injury, and he picked up right where he left off.
"This is part of the vision coming to life, man," Campbell said of his backfield. "Is those two back there, the two-headed monster."
Montgomery had a 75-yard touchdown run and averaged 9.7 yards per carry. Gibbs had two one-yard rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Gibbs also caught three passes for 35 yards. They are different style runners who bring a lot to the table. If Sunday is any indication, opposing defenses will have their hands full with this duo moving forward.
THIRD DOWN: MONTGOMERY SAVES THE PLAY
Goff said he should have figured it out in the huddle, but it wasn't until the huddle broke on a 1st and 10 play at the Lions' 25-yard line late in the second quarter that he noticed the Lions were in the wrong personnel for the play that was called.
"Every once in a while, it happens where we have the wrong personnel on the field for a certain play we had called, and we really can't run with that personnel," Goff said.
It was supposed to be a pass play out of 12 personnel (one back and two tight ends) but the Lions broke the huddle in 11 personnel (one back and one tight end). Goff checked it to a run play out of the personnel they were in. The end result was a 75-yard touchdown run by Montgomery to give the Lions a 24-10 lead at the time.
Goff and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson realized it was the wrong play for the personnel once they broke the huddle and Goff said Johnson was telling him through the headset to check to the run. He did, Montgomery got terrific blocking upfront to get into the second level, and two big blocks from wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams helped spring him to the end zone.
It just goes to show how good this offense is. Even a wrong can turn into a big-time right with the players they have on that side of the ball.
FOURTH DOWN: O-LINE PERFORMANCE
The Chargers came into Sunday's contest second in the NFL with 31 sacks this season. They have one of the better edge-rushing duos in the league in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. When it was all said and done Sunday and the Lions were leaving Los Angeles winners for the seventh time this season, the Chargers' defensive line had no sacks and just two hits in the books.
Goff couldn't remember being hit a single time after the game.
"That's what we were talking about after the game," Goff said. "They got Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa two of the top guys in the game. We say this all the time, but our two tackles are two of the top guys in the game."
Goff was referring to left tackle Taylor Decker and right tackle Penei Sewell, of course. Those two, together with left guard Jonah Jackson, center Frank Ragnow and right guard Graham Glasgow played terrific Sunday. They controlled the line of scrimmage all game in both the run and pass game and showed why they are considered one of the best units in football when healthy.
"I think this unit we have right now is going to start gelling pretty well and continue to keep going," Goff said.