O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: How Campbell's vision for the Lions is materializing

The Detroit Lions put the cap on another season with a performance that was a reel of snap shots that showed who they want to become and at times who they still are.

They were dominant at times, dominated at others and resourceful throughout a 37-30 win over the Green Bay Packers Sunday in their season-ending game at Ford Field.

What they showed most of all was grit -- the quality head coach Dan Campbell said before the season he wanted to see in his team.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at how the Lions finished off their season in much the way Campbell and his staff might have scripted it. There's a look at how the offense and defense took turns carrying the load, and how quarterback Jared Goff took giant steps in establishing himself as the Lions quarterback of the present and future.

There is also a look at the Lions playing complementary football, takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.

We start with Dan Campbell, and how his vision of the Lions is materializing:

1. True grit: The Packers played their starters —including quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- for most of the first half, but the Lions managed to hold a 17-13 lead at the half.

The Packers took a 30-27 lead with 4:49 left with Jordan Love at quarterback the entire second half. It looked like another close loss was looming. It wasn't.

The Lions continued to battle as a team to pull out the win.

"When you're where we're at and you get late in the season and you don't have the wins, it's not easy for guys to continue to come work – put their best foot forward and continue to work.

"But our guys did that. I think they know what we're trying to build. They understand, for us, it was what we said from Day One. We want a gritty team, guys who are resilient, guys that are willing to lay it on the line."

2. Offense, defense, special teams: They all did their part in a flurry at the end that let the Lions rally for the victory after the Packers had battled back to take a 30-27 lead with 4:49 left.

The offense did its part, with a 75-yard drive to the go-ahead TD on D'Andre Swift's 14-yard run with 1:54 left.

The defense did its part, with two interceptions in the final 1:23.

And the special teams did its part with Riley Patterson's third of three field goals – a 27-yarder with 48 seconds left to close out the scoring.

"What fires you up the most is the fact that we complemented each other," Campbell said. "That's what is the most important thing in a team. It really doesn't matter what the score was.

"When we needed it, our defense got a stop, got a turnover. Our offense, when our defense needed some help, we found a way to score some points."

3. Goff: He took a lot of criticism, especially early in the season, and some of it was deserved. But he has taken command since the bye. He's had 11 TD passes against two interceptions since the bye.

He missed the last two games because of a knee injury sustained in the win over the Cardinals.

Goff limped at times Sunday, but downplayed any effects of the injury when asked if it bothered him.

It's obvious Goff has established credibility with teammates for his toughness, and his performance.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • Tricks: The two TDs on trick plays -- wide receiver Tom Kennedy's 75-yard pass to wide receiver Kalif Raymond and Goff's 36-yarder to tight end Brock Wright on a throw-back after a double handoff – were as well choreographed as any TD pass.
  • Speed: Swift didn't have a big game running the ball – just seven carries for 30 yards, but the 14-yard around left end for a TD in the fourth quarter shows what a dangerous threat he is with the ball in his hands.
  • Center of attention: After injuries and changes along the offensive line, Jonah Jackson moved over from left guard to fill the spot. He looked like he has played center his entire career.
  • Friendly fire: The Lions were stopped a yard short of rushing for 100 yards, but it wasn't by the Packers' defense. Quarterback Tim Boyle was credited with a one-yard loss for taking a knee on the last play of the game. That left the Lions with an official 99 yards rushing.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Pressure: The Lions put it on Aaron Rodgers in the first half. They were credited with three sacks. However, two were officially called sacks when Rodgers scrambled and was tackled for no gain.
  • Pass plays: The Lions got to the ball, with five passes defended to go with two interceptions.
  • Finisher: Outside linebacker Julian Okwara saved his best for last, with two sacks and a forced fumble. If he stays healthy, he'll bring a pass-rush threat to the defense.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Off the mark: Punter Jack Fox was two-for-two on passes on fake punts – before Sunday. He misfired on a fake-punt pass in the first quarter.
  • Leg work: Fox did better with his regular job. He averaged 48.5 yards on two punts, with a long punt of 67 yards.
  • Hot foot: Patterson made all three field-goal attempts, making him 13 for 14 in the six games he kicked for the Lions.

7. Trending:

  • Up: Home field advantage. The Lions won their last three home games. The last time they won three straight home games was 2016, when they won six straight.
  • Down: Nothing, really. The Lions finished the season on an upswing. That's something to build on.
  • Even: The Lions played hard from start to finish. That's been their strong suit in the first season under Campbell.

8. Bottom line: There is more optimism about the 2021 Lions than there has been about teams that won twice as many games. That's a tribute to the entire football organization, and especially the players who've bought in to the culture change. There's work to do in the offseason, but the tools and resources are there to make a move upward.

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