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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: How Lions' victory over Giants was their most impressive so far

The holiday season hasn't officially begun, but the Detroit Lions are celebrating in style.

Their wish lists have become weekly realities – winning football games a week at a time.

They made it three in a row Sunday with a 31-18 road win over the New York Giants that made their won-loss record 4-6.

This was the most impressive performance by the Lions coming after previous wins in the streak over the Packers and Bears. It was a quality win over a team that went into the game with a 7-2 won-loss record.

The victory was no fluke. The Lions were clearly the better team – stronger up front on offense and defense, and more resourceful in getting turnovers that stopped drives by the Giants and were turned into points.

"I thought everybody did a hell of a job," head coach Dan Campbell said in a postgame interview with 97.1 The Ticket. "We're playing better defensively, and we're getting turnovers."

The Lions begin the holiday season for real on Thursday with the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field.

In an ironic twist, the Bills beat the Browns 31-23 Sunday in a game that was moved from Buffalo's home stadium to Ford Field because of a snow storm that made playing the game in Buffalo impossible.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at how the Lions have been able to handle everything, good and bad, that comes their way. There's a look at how they dominated on both sides of the ball, what turnovers meant in the game, and how the Lions shut down Giants star running back Saquon Barkley while controlling the game with their own running game.

There are also takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.

We start with the Lions' defense.

1. Stops: If there was a moment of doubt it came in the first quarter after the Lions had taken a 3-0 lead with a field goal on their first possession. Two possessions later, the Giants drove to a touchdown and a 6-3 lead.

It no doubt looked to many like the Lions would start to backpedal.

They didn't. Not even close.

The Lions had a 17-6 lead at halftime, and stretched it to 24-6 with a touchdown on the first possession of the second half.

It was an example of complementary football that Campbell has preached.

An interception by rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson set up the touchdown that gave the Lions a 10-6 lead. It was one of three turnovers the Lions created.

Hutchinson also had a fumble recovery when he made an alert play to dive on a loose ball while pursuing a play. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph also had an interception in the game.

The two interceptions matched the total that Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had for the first nine games.

"It's something we've been talking about," Campbell said. "Now we're doing it."

The message has gotten through.

"Turnovers are huge in this league," Hutchinson said. "It's something I'm starting to realize. Most of the time, it does come down to that battle."

2. Shut down: That's what the Lions did to Barkley, and it made an impact on the game.

Barkley went into the game with 931 yards rushing, and with 152 of them coming in last week's win over the Texans.

The Lions held him to 22 yards on 15 carries, with a long run of four yards.

The way the Lions contained Barkley took the Giants out of their offensive comfort zone.

A week ago against the Texans, the Giants ran the ball 47 times and threw it 17 times. Jones threw for 197 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 153.3.

Against the Lions, Jones threw the ball 44 times for 341 yards, one TD, two interceptions and a passer rating of 74.1 – less than half of what he posted against the Texans.

3. Personal protection: The Lions had two sacks and 10 quarterback hits on Jones. Jared Goff was barely touched by comparison – three hits, no sacks and 26 passes attempted to Jones' 44.

Goff should be somewhat fresh for Thursday's game against the Bills.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • Production: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had it—seven catches on eight targets for 76 yards. That's after 10 catches on 11 targets for 119 yards the previous week vs. the Bears. Throw him the ball, he'll come up with it.
  • Commentary: This crack came from Lions radio analyst T.J. Lang on Jason Cabinda's crushing block on one of Jamaal Williams' TD runs: "That's an old man angry block."
  • On the run: The Lions did well with their running back rotation. Justin Jackson had nine carries for 66 yards. Williams had 17 carries for 64 yards and three TDs. And D'Andre Swift had five for 20 yards and a TD.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Rookie production: Hutchinson had his second interception of the season and a fumble recovery. Joseph had his third interception of the season.
  • Filling the stats sheet: Lineman Alim McNeill did that – four tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.
  • Run stoppers: The Giants like to run the ball, but they had only seven rushing first downs. They had 17 passing.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Extra point misses: Defensive lineman John Cominsky got a hand up to deflect the Giants' extra point attempt after their first TD. It was a good play that could have had more impact had the score been closer.
  • Double duty: In addition to running with the ball, Jackson had two assisted tackles on special teams.
  • Triple duty: Jackson also 31.5 yards on two kickoff returns.

7. Trending:

  • Up: Lions' defense. Turnovers make a difference, and the defense is getting them.
  • Down: Draft speculation. The more the Lions win, the less you hear – unless it's about the Rams' pick that goes to the Lions.
  • Even: Williams. He's churning out touchdowns like they're coming off an assembly line.

8. Bottom line: If the Lions take advantage of playing the next three games at home, there will be more talk about them being playoff contenders.

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