Winning matters, even if the games don't count.
That's what we learned from head coach Dan Campbell's comments after the Detroit Lions' 27-26 win over the Indianapolis Colts Saturday in the second preseason game of the year.
"It's very important especially with a young team," said Campbell, who had more to say on the value of winning and other aspects of the game.
Among the other things we learned include the following: Controlling the run game on both sides of the ball was a key element and, more importantly, showed improvement by the Lions; the Lions could have a good problem when it comes to the mandatory roster cut to 53 players; and wide receiver Tom Kennedy had another performance that likely elevated and expanded his stock.
We start with winning:
It wasn't just the victory that pleased Campbell. It was the way the Lions got it.
They took a 27-20 lead on running back Godwin Igwebuike's two-yard run that capped a 95-yard, 18-play drive. The Colts rallied back on the next possession to go 72 yards on 11 plays to score on wide receiver Samson Nacua's 26-yard TD catch with 38 seconds left. That made it 27-26.
The Colts elected to go for two points and failed, leaving the Lions' with a one-point win.
Learning to win games and come out ahead in key areas is part of a team's development. The Lions, who've won 17 games in the last four seasons, need to develop a winning edge.
They've certainly been competitive in Campbell's brief reign. They play with grit.
"Where we've been, where we're coming from, where we begin to go at the end of the season -- it's got to be part of our DNA," Campbell said. "It's got to become part of who we are.
"We embrace every moment and treat it like it's your last moment. Because if you don't and you just kind of accept it you'll be average or just above average.
"And that's not good enough in this league."
On the run: The Lions won the ground game, and it wasn't close – 174 yards and 5.3 yards per carry, to 30 yards and 1.7 yards per carry for the Colts. The Lions had a long run of 21 yards. Indy's longest run was five yards.
Jonathan Taylor did not play for the Colts. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams did not play for the Lions.
That was a differential of 144 yards rushing in the Lions' favor.
"It says the guys are doing what we're asking them to do," Campbell said. "The fundamentals showing up more often than they didn't.
"I just feel like the most consistent group of all of them this week was the d-Line. I feel like every one of those guys improved.
"I don't think anyone took a step back, and it just carried over to the game."
Depth chart: The Lions have a problem looming, and it's a good one. They've built enough depth to the point where making the final cuts to 53 players could be a problem.
"It makes it harder," Campbell said. "That's really a good thing inevitably. That means we're getting better. Our talent is getting better. Our players are getting better.
"Roster-wise, that's a good thing. It's hard. You wish you could keep all of them.
"It means we're trending in the right direction."
Kennedy update: Another productive day, with five catches for 24 yards and two TDs.
He also has been getting some work on special teams. He fielded the onside kick after the Colts' final TD to clinch the win.
"We're giving him every opportunity to make this team," Campbell said. "He won't go away."