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FOUR DOWNS: Defense shows up in Kansas City


It's only one game and it's a long season, but what a great first week for Detroit's revamped defense.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes spent considerable time and resources reshaping the league's last-ranked defense and the early results are certainly promising after Detroit's 21-20 win over Kansas City on the road Thursday night.

"Defensively, I thought they showed up," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. "They showed up in a big way."

The Chiefs have one of the best offenses in the NFL, even without All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who was inactive Thursday with a knee injury. They were held to just 316 total yards and two touchdowns.

Reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes completed just over 50 percent of his passes for 226 yards.

Detroit's defense ended the game with a three-and-out and a turnover on downs to help clinch a huge victory on the road in front of a national audience.

"Everyone knows the focal point of this team is defense," veteran defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson said. "It looks good, don't it? Real good."

It won't get any easier next week for Detroit with Seattle's explosive offense coming to Ford Field.


One of the first things Lions quarterback Jared Goff said after Thursday night's win was how much the offense needs to clean some stuff up before facing Seattle in 10 days.

Resilient teams find ways to win football games with a total team effort.

It wasn't a clean game for Goff and the offense, but they found ways to make the plays when they needed them most, especially down the stretch. Goff deserves a lot of credit for that.

"All week I thought he looked confident, calm and just steady," Campbell said of his quarterback. "I thought he played very steady today. Is there things that we can clean up? Some throws he would want back. Yeah. But man, he took care of the football, got us in the right play, he calmed the waters for us and he did what we needed to do to win the game."

In this kind of game that came right down to the end, taking care of the football was key. He completed 22-of-35 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions for a 94.1 rating.

Goff extended his streak of 359 straight passing attempts without an interception, which is now the third longest streak in NFL history.


Trailing 14-7 at halftime the big message Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had for his guys was to simply get off the field.

Kansas City was 5-for-7 converting on third down in the first half and most of those were Mahomes improvising with his legs to keep drives alive. So Glenn and the Lions changed their rush plan a little bit and put an emphasis on containing Mahomes on third down, and the result was the Chiefs going 0-for-7 in the second half on third down.

It was the difference in the game.

"We talked about it. Once again making an emphasis on our rush lanes," Campbell said. "We have to plaster those guys in coverage and stay with them a little longer and we just put another emphasis on it and boy they did a hell of a job."

View photos from the Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs Week 1 game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 7 in Kansas City, MO.


In Detroit's Week 18 win over Green Bay to close out last season, the Lions faithful that traveled to Lambeau Field took over the stadium at the end of the game. It was a similar showing to start Week 1.

The Lions fans that came to Arrowhead made their presence felt.

"When I walked out in pregame and looked out to a sea of blue, I was like wow," Campbell said. "Then about the third quarter, I started to hear them. It started to grow as we got into the fourth quarter. They made themselves known. You could feel it. It is outstanding to have fans that travel like that. We see you and it is much appreciated."

Goff heard them too and is convinced they played a part in a late false start penalty on Kansas City's last drive.

"Yeah, it felt a lot like Green Bay last year, very similar," Goff said. "We love our fans. It seemed like they may have forced that false start at the end for Kansas City, which would be pretty impressive if so. It looked like it. They were loud when we were on defense, and they were quiet when we were on offense. They helped us out there on defense."

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