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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: How Lions' rookies performed in Week 1 win over Chiefs

The kids are all right.

In fact, they're more than all right.

The Detroit Lions put the top four players from their 2023 draft class in full football combat Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The results were good enough to soothe any major concerns of their ability to compete against the NFL's best.

"I don't feel like with any of our pups that the game was too big for them," head coach Dan Campbell said of their performance in the 21-20 win.

"The stage wasn't too much for them."

This week's Monday Countdown looks at how the Lions' top four draft picks performed vs. the Chiefs, how Campbell views quarterback Jared Goff's streak of passes without an interception and what danger might loom for the Lions.

There are also takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending for the Lions and the bottom line after one week.

1. We start with Campbell and the rookies: The Lions have trended young since GM Brad Holmes and Campbell arrived in 2021 to remake the franchise.

The results of their talent search are written in the standings – from a win-loss record of 3-13-1 in 2021 to 9-8 last year to Thursday's win over the Chiefs.

Four players drafted in the first two rounds this year played key roles in the win over the Chiefs.

From the first round, running back Jahmyr Gibbs carried seven times for 42 yards, and linebacker Jack Campbell had two tackles and a big pass breakup.

From the second round, tight end Sam LaPorta had five receptions on five targets and defensive back Brian Branch had three tackles and an interception that he ran in for a touchdown.

Campbell's only regret with Gibbs is that he didn't get enough playing time – just 19 of 70 snaps. He'll get more time in next week's game vs Seattle.

"He's going to get a bigger piece of the pie as we move forward," Campbell said.

LaPorta did a good job of blocking, and he played all but 12 snaps.

At 6-5 and 243 pounds, Jack Campbell has size and range which he used in batting down a pass.

"I'm watching his tape," Dan Campbell said. "He didn't play like a rookie."

Branch stood out with his interception return for a TD.

"Branch is a playmaker," Campbell said. "He came up with a big one for us."

2. Steak: Goff stretched to 359 passes without an interception by going 22 of 35 vs. the Chiefs.

Campbell likes what the streak has brought more than he likes the streak itself.

"Right now, I like where he's at," Campbell said. "He's playing a steady smart game right now."

3. Warnings: Don't take the Seahawks for granted Sunday. They could be better than the team that beat the Lions, 48-45, in Week 4 at Ford Field last year.

The Lions are better, too. I expect them to show it.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • Playing 19 of the 70 offensive snaps was a light load for Gibbs, but it was enough to show that he's a special talent.
  • One more for the running backs: Gibbs and veteran David Montgomery make a lethal duo.
  • As expected, the offensive line played well with all five starters healthy. And they can play better.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • The Lions were the dominant team in the fourth quarter. They held the Chiefs to 15 plays, a net of 38 yards, two first downs and a field goal. The game was up for grabs, and the Lions took it home.
  • Of the Chiefs' 10 top plays, the Lions gave up only seven of 10 yards or longer. Two gained 10 yards, and one gained nine.
  • The Lions didn't get a sack on quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but they made life difficult for him in other ways. Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson had three of the Lions' seven quarterback hits.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Key first-quarter play: Jalen Reeves-Maybin grinding out three yards on fourth and two on a fake punt for a first down at the Lions' 20. The possession ended in the Lions' first TD and a 7-0 lead.
  • The punt coverage team held the Chiefs to an average of 5.3 yards on three returns, with a long return of nine yards.

7. Trending:

  • Up: Offensive line. It protected Goff and paved the way for the running game.
  • Down: Giving up a catch and a first down on third and 17 that led to a Chiefs TD.
  • Even: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Six catches, 71 yards and a TD. Steady as always.

8. Bottom line: Get ready, fans, for more of what you saw – and heard – Thursday night in Kansas City. I suggest you wear ear plugs for Sunday's game vs. Seattle at Ford Field.

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