The Lions played a video on the big screen at Ford Field near the end of Sunday's 41-10 victory over the Chicago Bears that recapped Detroit's season up to this point, highlighting how much it's meant to players and coaches to be playing important games late in the year after starting the season 1-6.
Veteran offensive tackle Taylor Decker said after the game it gave him goosebumps.
The 66,169 fans that packed Ford Field Sunday rose to their feet and cheered. It certainly didn't go unnoticed by head coach Dan Campbell how special it's been the last two months putting themselves in this position.
"I think it means everything. I think it's just so special. It's as good as it can get," Campbell said of playing meaningful games in December and January. "I mean, seriously you get to go to Lambeau. Historic Lambeau where the top of this division has been Green Bay every year for years and to go earn your right to potentially get in.
"Even if you do get that win doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get in. I know this, we're guaranteed to get one more week, and so I just think this is as special as it gets. I mean, I just don't think you'd want it any other way."
This has been a special run for the Lions as they've put themselves in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016 if they beat the Packers in Green Bay next week and Seattle loses to the Los Angeles Rams.
Win or lose next week. Playoffs or not. This run has been fun to watch, and it raises the expectations for next season, something Campbell acknowledged after the game.
"They need to understand what this is because this has got to become the norm," he said. "This has to become the norm. Then, it becomes – you're playing for the division, you're playing for where your seeding is going to be. That's coming. But right now, to get a taste of all this right now and be in the hunt, be in the run, I think is huge for our guys."
Running back Jamaal Williams set a career high with 601 rushing yards last season in his first year in Detroit. After running for 144 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Bears, Williams is just six yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season with one game remaining in Green Bay, a place he spent his first four seasons in the NFL. Williams is also just one touchdown away from tying Barry Sanders' single-season franchise record of 16 touchdowns in a season.
"It was great to get Jamaal going again, man, we've been talking about this – wanting to really get him lathered up and let him go," Campbell said. "And our offensive line took this serious, they took last week serious and there again, we went to work, our tight ends, receivers, everybody had a hand in it. So, there again it was a great job."
Campbell joked Sunday that watching running back D’Andre Swift have a big game against the Bears with 117 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns was like being in the desert with nothing to drink and there's the water.
He said watching rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams take a reverse into the open field and nearly take it to the house was like finding a candy bar in the desert.
"To get him that one with a little bit of space and you see him turn up and it's – you can see that speed," Campbell said. "So, that's good to see – get him a little more involved and there again, man, the more that he does every week and the more that timing gets developed.
"And I'll tell you what, he's hungry now. Like he goes, he works hard in practice, he wants to know what he needed to do or what – he's very coachable, and so he's only going to – he's only going to continue to do this."
Williams didn't have a catch on three targets, but the 40-yard gain on the reverse down to the Chicago 8-yard line set up a Jamaal Williams touchdown two play later.
The Lions had some communication trouble with quarterback Jared Goff's helmet early in the game where he couldn't hear the play calls from offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
"Yeah, thank God we had a little contingency plan there in place with the wristband," Goff said. "About halfway through that drive, we remembered we had that, and that made it a little bit easier, but up until then, yeah, I was running to the sideline, getting the call. Things like that happen sometimes, unfortunate, but yeah, it happens."
BIG MEN INTROS
The Lions usually rotate between introducing the offensive and defensive starters at Ford Field. Sunday, they did things a little different. They introduced the starters along the offensive and defensive lines.
"I wanted to do that because that was everything coming out of Carolina was about that," Campbell said. "And for us to be – our identity to be a physical, tough, hard nose, relentless, resilient team, it all starts with the o-line, d-line. And so, I wanted to make sure that got acknowledged for the last one here."