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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Lions played like contenders despite elimination

At 7:32 p.m. Sunday the Detroit Lions' playoffs hopes were ended for the 2022 season.

The Lions were not done in by anything they did or did not do in their final game of the season against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Jason Myers' field goal in overtime gave the Seattle Seahawks a 19-16 win over the Los Angeles Rams and eliminated the Lions from contention and left the Lions in the spoiler role in their game against the Packers.

As disappointed as the Lions may have been in not being able to determine their own playoff fate in a showdown game with the Packers, they went out and did what they've done in the previous 33 games since head coach Dan Campbell and his staff took over in the 2021 season.

They went to work and played hard – hard enough to come away with a 20-16 win and keep the Packers from making the playoffs.

The Lions finished with a 9-8 win-loss record, the same as the Seahawks who beat them out for a playoff berth off their 48-45 win over the Lions in the regular season.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at how the Lions validated themselves as playoff contenders with their performance throughout the season and solidified that even further with their performance Sunday night.

There's a look at how the Lions won Sunday night with a combination of veterans and young players, and how they emphasized the grit that Campbell looks for in building a team.

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

We start with how Campbell thought it was fitting that the Lions clinched the victory with a play on fourth down.

1. Going for it: Campbell got a reputation for being a gambler from fake punts and going for it on fourth down.

The Lions got the ball back with 3:27 left for their clinching possession on an interception by rookie safety Kerby Joseph.

On fourth and one at the Packers' 15, the Lions went for it. Quarterback Jared Goff's nine-yard pass to wide receiver DJ Chark clinched it. All that was left was one snap in the victory formation to make it official and start the celebration game interview on 97.1—The Ticket.

"To finish it out there on the fourth-down conversion is very gratifying," Campbell said.

"I couldn't be more proud of these guys. We hung in there. It's a gritty group. It really is. We were all about getting respect. That's what this game was for. It came with winning.

"We're trending. We're improved from last year. I believe we're going to improve next year."

2. Young and old: This was a team win in every sense, but the blend of players who made signification contributions shows how well this team has been put together.

For example, Joseph's interception in the fourth quarter was his third off Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers this year. He had two of the Lions' three interceptions in the 15-9 win over the Packers earlier in the year.

Rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson had two sacks Sunday. He had two tackles and an interception the first game against the Packers.

Running back Jamaal Williams, a six-year vet, did the heavy work in the running game in the second half. Held to 15 yards on four carries in the first half, he had 12 carries for 57 yards and two TDs in the second half.

Overall, the defense put the clamps on Rodgers and the rest of the offense much like they did in the first game. In the two games the Packers managed two TDs and four field goals.

On a day when yards and points were hard to come by, Goff was solid and efficient. He protected the ball and came up with key completions.

3. Sign of the past: Campbell summed up his feelings about the progress his team has made in one of his comments at the podium in his postgame interview.

He said he doesn't want to hear "same old Lions," any more.

Why should he? They aren't the same old Lions any more.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • Run game: The Lions rushed for 104 yards on 25 carries. It wasn't the volume that mattered as much as the key carries – two TDs from Williams in particular.
  • Missed opportunities: A 66-yard touchdown by rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams on a flea flicker was called back on a holding penalty.
  • Fourth down: The Lions were 2-for-2.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Rodgers neighborhood: The Lions spent a lot of time in it. They had two sacks, seven hits and one interception. And another interception, also by Joseph, was called back on a penalty.
  • Power: Defensive linemen John Cominsky and Isaiah Buggs both made some big tackles. Cominsky had a fumble recovery and a QB hit. Buggs also had a QB hit.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Returns limit: Packers kickoff return specialist Keisean Nixon was held in check – an average of 19.8 yards on four kickoff returns with a long return of 30 yards.
  • Punts: Jack Fox had a net of 37.5 yards on four punts. Nixon averaged 9.5 yards on four punt returns.

7. What's trending:

  • Up: The Detroit Lions.
  • Down: The Green Bay Packers.
  • Even: Dan Campbell. He stuck with what he believes in, and the results are obvious.

8. Bottom line: The Lions won games and entertained their fans. That's a wining combination.

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