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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Lions get back on track with big win over Broncos

The Detroit Lions have muted their critics, at least for the short term, but they've sent a message to their opponents that they plan to be in the playoff race for the long term.

They're not doing it just with talk. They're doing it with action.

"You guys probably know the scenarios more than I do," linebacker Alex Anzalone said after Saturday night's 42-17 dismantling of the Denver Broncos at Ford Field.

"The main goal is the division. The way the last few weeks have been going. We just had to get back to what we do to win this game ... and put the pressure on everyone else."

The heat is on in the NFC North, and the Lions are the ones carrying the torch with a 10-4 record and three games left in the regular season.

This week's Monday Countdown looks at some key elements of Saturday night's game, and the approach head coach Dan Campbell wanted his team to take into the game.

There's also quarterback Jared Goff's view of the rookies who are helping drive the team's success. There are takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, what's trending and the bottom line.

We start with Dan Campbell's view:

1. Preparation: The game, and preparing for it, is the main thing with Campbell. He has made that clear at every turn, from opening day of his first season as head coach of the Lions through Saturday night's game.

"We needed to do what we needed to do today," Campbell said. "I was proud of our guys. We just needed to win, and we did that today."

The Lions didn't get out of the blocks fast, and Campbell saw that as a potential problem in the future. The Lions were scoreless in the first quarter but broke out for 21 points in the second quarter.

"We can't do that." Campbell said. "We can't accept that – not with where we're going. But we got out of it. Defense played well and found our rhythm.

"I thought (Jared) Goff played a really good game. A number of guys did. The offensive line played their rears off.

"I'm happy for our guys that we got a W here when we needed it. Get to 10 and now we got three to go."

2. Rookie stars: Running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta shine brighter by the day.

"They are two of the best rookies I've ever been around," Goff said after Saturday's game.

Gibbs rushed for 100 yards and a TD to push his season totals to 792 yards and seven TDs.

LaPorta had five catches for 56 yards and three TDs. That boosted his season totals to 71 catches, 758 yards and 9 TDs.

In a big game, the two rookies came up with big performances.

3. Unsung star: One player who doesn't seem to get full credit for his performance is Goff.

All he did was complete 24 of 34 passes for 278 yards and five TDs.

4. Takeaways, offense:

  • The Lions' running back duo of Gibbs and David Montgomery combined to gain 185 yards on 28 carries. Five Broncos carried 28 times – for 83 yards.
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown was the Lions' leading receiver again. He had seven catches on nine targets for 112 yards and a TD.
  • After being shut out in the first quarter, the Lions scored all 42 of their points in the last three quarters.

5. Takeaways, defense:

  • Another big game for Anzalone – 12 tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass defended and two quarterback hits.
  • The Lions had eight passes defended. They made it tough on QB Russell Wilson to find throwing lanes.
  • Defensive lineman Josh Paschal had a sack, a quarterback hit and two tackles for loss. He's coming on.

6. Takeaways, special teams:

  • Malcolm Rodriguez has played a lot of different positions since no longer being strictly a linebacker. He added another one Saturday. He caught the ball on the Broncos' attempted onside kick.
  • Michael Badgley had a routine day in his return to being the Lions' kicker. He had no field goals to attempt but did make all six extra points.

7. What's trending:

  • Up: Lions' defensive line. They had a good day against Denver's running game and kept pressure on the quarterback.
  • Down: Nothing. Life's good right now for the Detroit Lions.
  • Even: Ford Field fans. They make the building rock from start to finish.

8. Bottom line: The Lions are getting their wish to play meaningful games in December. January is next.

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