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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Lions execute their game plan to near perfection

The Detroit Lions got what they wanted, what they needed and what they worked hard to get, and it all came in one neat package.

They met a Jacksonville Jaguars team that was supposed to be on the rise Sunday, and never let them get off the ground in a 40-14 victory that was as one-sided as the final score indicated.

In fact, it might have been even more one-sided.

The Lions never punted. They had eight possessions – not counting the end-of-game victory kneel down – and scored a touchdown or field goal on all eight.

The Lions were penalized only once – 10 yards for holding – and they didn't have a turnover.

"It was big to win," said head coach Dan Campbell.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at how the Lions put together a game plan and followed it to near perfection. There's also a projection from Campbell on where his team stands with others and how rebounding from the loss to the Buffalo Bills wasn't as difficult as it might seem.

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

We start with the game plan.

1. Skills: Campbell and his staff constructed a game plan that featured the skilled players who were going to outscore the opponent.

"The bigs did a good job," Campbell said, referring to the linemen. "We felt like our skilled guys had to show up – our receivers and our DBs.

"It was that kind of game."

On offense, the linemen gave quarterback Jared Goff time to throw, and he took advantage to complete 31 of 41 passes for 340 yards and two TDs.

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had 11 catches for 114 yards and two TDs. Wide receiver DJ Chark had five catches for 98 yards.

The running backs produced – 64 yards and a TD for D’Andre Swift, and 35 yards and a TD for Jamaal Williams.

Defensively, the Lions held Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence to 179 yards passing and one TD.

Overall, the Lions had a 31-16 advantage in first downs and 437 to 266 in yards gained.

Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., a former Lion, put it this way: "They whacked us."

2. Campbell's view – his team: He has never lost faith on where the Lions are headed in his second season as head coach. He saw flashes of steady improvement when the won-loss record sank to 1-6.

"I feel like this is a game that can catapult us through December," Campbell said. "When we're right, I like our odds."

December, of course, is when the playoff race is on in earnest.

3. Campbell's view – his quarterback: Goff has been steady and sometimes spectacular in the five-game run that has the Lions playing meaningful games in December.

Goff was spectacular throwing the ball against the Jaguars. St. Brown had 11 catches on 12 targets, and Chark had five catches on six targets. That is a high rate of efficiency.

"Our quarterback played as good as you can play," Campbell said. "He's playing as good as any quarterback can play."

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • On the run: Williams' TD was his 14th of the season, leaving him two away from the franchise record of 16 rushing TDs held by Barry Sanders.
  • In the air: With four catches for 49 yards, Swift looked close to his early-season form when he was one of the most dangerous dual threats in the league.
  • Go DJ: Chark's 41-yard catch showed he's back as a deep threat. That was a missing element when he was out with an ankle injury.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Rookie wonder: Another sack gave rookie linebacker James Houston three in two games. He also had two quarterback hits.
  • Set up: Linebacker Alex Anzalone's fumble recovery on Jacksonville's first possession set up a drive to a TD and a 7-0 lead for the Lions. Anzalone seems to be around the ball a lot. He also had a tackle for loss.
  • Ball control: Good work by the defense helped the Lions have a 74-55 edge in plays run.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Big leg: Punter Jack Fox has a strong leg that the Lions use on kickoffs. It gives them an advantage over most teams, and Sunday's game was one of those.
  • Returns: Justin Jackson averaged 31.5 yards on two Jacksonville kickoffs that were returnable.
  • Perfect: Kicker Michael Badgley was 4-for-4 kicking field goals and made all four of his extra point tries.

7. Trending:

  • Up: Lions' passing game. It's dangerous at every level – short routes, deep routes and running backs.
  • Down: Penalties. The Lions had one against the Jaguars and only three against the Bills on Thanksgiving Day. That's a good sign of a disciplined team.
  • Even: St. Brown. He can be counted on every play.

8. Bottom line: Winning takes care of everything, and the Lions have been winning of late. And it doesn't look like it's a fluke.

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