The way quarterback Jared Goff is playing right now has given the Detroit Lions an opportunity to play meaningful football games in December for the first time since 2017.
Detroit's defense has played much better over their last five games and special teams has been consistently good over that stretch too, but the real catalyst to Detroit's 4-1 record in their last five games has been the offense with Goff leading the way.
Goff has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,118 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception over his last five contests for a 99.8 passer rating. The important number there is the one interception (Nov. 6 vs. Packers) and none over his last four games.
"I think I've done a good job taking care of the ball and I think guys have gotten themselves open and we are protecting well, and I've been conscious of (limiting the turnovers)," Goff said Wednesday. "I think that was an issue for us early on. It was part of why we were losing some of those games. I was very conscious of it, and I think it's been part of why we've won a lot of these games."
During Detroit's 1-6 start, Goff threw at least one interception in five of those contests. Two of them were returned for touchdowns (vs. Philadelphia and Seattle) in what ended up being one-score losses. He also had a fumble returned for a touchdown Week 5 in New England.
But Goff's taken care of the football much better over the last month and a half, while still pushing the ball down the field and being explosive in the passing game. He's coming off a 31-of-41 passing performance against the Jaguars last week for 340 yards and two touchdowns and no turnovers in Detroit's 40-14 drubbing of Jacksonville.
At just 28 years old, Goff is showing he's not only the present at the quarterback position in Detroit, but he can be the future as well.
He's currently top 10 in the NFL in 11 different passing categories, including passing yards (3,022), touchdowns (19), yards per game (251.8), 100-plus rating games (5), 25-plus yard completions (23), 300-yard passing games (3) and sack percentage (4.5 percent).
He and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson are in lock step running this offense, and Goff deserves a lot of credit for helping turn things around after a 1-6 start.
"I feel like I am playing the best football of my career right now," Goff said. "I'm starting to settle in a little bit and Ben and I have a good thing going. Still a lot of work to do, and we can always improve, but I am comfortable and hope to continue that through the season."
The Lions will welcome former tight end T.J. Hockenson back into Ford Field Sunday as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Detroit traded Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2024 draft selection to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick.
The Vikings didn't waste any time getting Hockenson into their offensive game plan. In his first week in Minneapolis against the Washington Commanders, he caught all nine passes thrown his way for 70 yards. In five games with the Vikings, Hockenson has caught 30 of 40 targets for 225 yards and one touchdown.
Hockenson spent his first three and a half seasons in Detroit after being a first-round pick in 2019. He was a Pro Bowler for the Lions in 2020.
The trade seems to have worked out well for both clubs.
"Certainly, we have a good feel of who he is as a player," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Hockenson. "He brings an element to the middle of the field for them. He's gone over there and done a nice job."
View photos of the starters for the Minnesota Vikings.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Detroit Lions kicker Michael Badgley was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Jaguars.
Badgley became the fifth player in team history to convert at least four field goals and four extra points in a single game. He converted from 38, 44, 45 and 47 yards on his field goal attempts.
For the season, he is 15-of-16 on field goals (93.8) and 18-of-18 on extra points.
This is Badgley's second career Special Teams Player of the Week award, also earning the honor as a rookie in Week 14 of the 2018 season with the Los Angeles Chargers. He is the fourth Lions kicker to earn the honor, joining Jason Hanson, Riley Patterson and Matt Prater.
- The Lions started the 21-day practice clock of wide receiver Quintez Cephus on Wednesday. Cephus was placed on IR after suffering a foot injury Week 4.
- Here's a good nugget from the Lions PR staff. A look at how the combined production of rookies compares to the rest of the NFL: 1st in sacks (10.0), 1st in total pressures (58), 1st in QB hurries (38), 2nd in INTs (5), 2nd in TFLs (13), t-2nd in FRs (2) and t-3rd in FFs (2).