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O'HARA'S WEEK 8 PREVIEW: Defense looks to build on improved performance

The Detroit Lions' defensive players want to play on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins the way it played a week ago against the Dallas Cowboys with one exception.

They want to keep it up a little longer.

The Lions held their own for three quarters, chiefly by the work the work of the defense. The Lions had a 6-3 lead at halftime and trailed by a narrow 10-6 margin entering the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys scored two TDs in the last three minutes to win, 24-6. The offense was more to blame than the defense for the loss. The Lions committed five turnovers, with four coming in the fourth quarter.

It was by far the best performance by the defense this season. It reflected the changes of personnel and scheme made during the bye week by head coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

Campbell expects there will be a carry over factor from how the Lions played last week. Success, even in defeat, builds a trust factor among teammates.

"Any time you play like that -- certainly the way we started most of that game -- they bought in to what we're doing and began to trust each other -- and the system, and what we're trying to do with it," Campbell said.

"It certainly helps. It carries over. We have to build into this week. We have to have another good week of practice. They played well last week.

"We still have a long way to go."

Lions' keys:

1. Offense - cut down turnovers and sacks: A lot of that falls on quarterback Jared Goff. In the last two games he has given up six turnovers and seven sacks.

Last week's 24-6 loss to the Cowboys was especially gruesome. He had four turnovers – two interceptions and two lost fumbles – and was sacked five times.

The Dolphins rank 21st with 14 sacks. Beating the pass rush should not be a major problem this week. There will be time for Goff to deliver.

2. Defense - repeat last week: Whatever the Lions cooked up during the bye week worked. The final score last week – Cowboys 24, Lions 6 – did not reflect how much better the defense performed.

The Lions have to at least slow down Miami's receiving tandem of Tyreek Hill, who leads the NFL in catches (57) and receiving yards (773), and Jaylen Waddle, who ranks fourth with 621 receiving yards on just 34 catches.

The Lions won't face a tougher duo all season.

3. Ford Field - make it rock: The Lions have failed to take advantage of what should be a home-field advantage because of the noise their fans make from start to finish.

Ford Field was rocking again in a win over Washington and two three-point losses to the Eagles and Seahawks.

Dolphins view: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa felt the electricity of being back as the Dolphins' leader before he threw his first pass in Sunday night's 16-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I felt good running out of the tunnel," Tagovailoa said in his postgame press conference. "The atmosphere was great. I had a lot of support from the fans. Just being able to be out there with my teammates – it was awesome."

He missed the previous two games while in the league's concussion protocol.

Tagovailoa was 21 of 35 for 251 yards and a TD. He ran four times for 15 yards and did not back down from contact in trying to gain yards and first downs.

"There are some things you do kind of have to see when you're playing the game," he said. "You don't get some of those looks in practice.

"I wasn't trying to be Superman or super hero out there."

My pick: It's prove-it time for the offense. They have to prove that averaging 35 points a game for the first four games was not a fluke. The Dolphins haven't scored more than 17 points the last four games.

The Dolphins are favored by 3 points.

Lions 30, Dolphins 20.

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