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NOTEBOOK: LaPorta leaves game with knee injury

The Detroit Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings 30-20 Sunday to give them 12 wins on the season and some momentum going into the start of the playoffs next week, but it might have come at a cost.

Late in the second quarter, rookie Pro Bowl tight end Sam LaPorta caught a 5-yard pass on a 3rd & 4 play for a first down, but as Josh Metellus tried to bring him down, LaPorta's left knee bent back awkwardly. LaPorta grabbed at the knee before he hit the ground. He laid on the field for a bit while trainers looked at him and then slowly walked off the field and into the injury tent. A cart came to take him to the locker room. He did not return.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game the injury isn't as bad as it looked initially.

"The best way I can put it is it's probably not as bad as it looked but it's not good news," Campbell said. "We'll know more tomorrow but I know it looked awful. It's not as bad as that. That doesn't mean it looks good in the immediate here to have him for a game."

LaPorta's absence to start the playoffs would be a big loss for the Lions. Earlier in the game LaPorta caught his 82nd reception of the season, establishing the new record for receptions in a season by a rookie tight end. He passed the previous record of 81 set by Keith Jackson in 1988.

LaPorta had five receptions for 29 yards and Detroit's first touchdown of the contest before suffering the injury. He finished the regular season with 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff said James Mitchell stepped up in LaPorta's absence, but potentially losing LaPorta will sting to begin the playoffs because whoever fills in, they won't be able to replicate the timing and chemistry he's built with LaPorta.

Mitchell did well in the blocking schemes and caught one pass for 24 yards.

Wide receiver and punt returner Kalif Raymond left the game early in the fourth quarter with a knee injury after catching a pass for a 9-yard gain and being tackled by defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga. He was ruled out quickly with a knee injury. He had two catches for 50 yards and four punt returns for 89 yards (22.3 avg.) before leaving the game. Campbell said Raymond is in the same boat as LaPorta.

View photos from the Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Week 18 game at Ford Field on Sunday, Jan. 7 in Detroit, MI.


Talk about a hot finish to the regular season for Lions Pro Bowl defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson. After a three-sack performance last week against the Dallas Cowboys, Hutchinson racked up two more sacks against the Vikings Sunday.

He's now produced 5.0 sacks and seven tackles for loss over the last two games. He joins Ezekiel Ansah (2017) as the only Lions to accumulate 5.0 sacks and seven tackles for loss in any two-game span. The last player to do so in any two-game span was Aaron Donald in 2018. Hutchinson finished the regular season with 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

"He's a guy who is relentless, but works his craft," Campbell said of Hutchinson. "He's got a quick first step. He's an explosive athlete. But then he's just constantly working with his hands and his body and his lean and his torque and he just every day gets a little bit better at something.

"Then here we go we got to Week 18 and now he continues to improve and continues to develop. That's a credit to him, man."


  • Detroit's win over Minnesota gives them a 4-2 mark against the NFC North in 2023.
  • The Lions rushed for 27 touchdowns this season, establishing a new single-season franchise record. They also set the franchise record with 6,712 total net yards this season.

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