A player's value can't always be measured by playing time or statistics. Production in small doses can make a major impact.
That's what we learned in the Detroit Lions' 31-30 win over the Chicago Bears. Tight end Brock Wright and wide receiver Tom Kennedy made significant contributions with limited stats early and late in the game.
Among the other things we learned include the following: In a matchup of quarterback styles – the Bears' Justin Fields vs. the Lions' Jared Goff -- there is more than one way to win a game; Dan Campbell is ahead of schedule compared to his first season as head coach of the Lions, and the young Lions growing up.
We start with impact:
Numerous players made an impact Sunday, as is the case in every game, from starters to backups to support staff. It isn't a stretch of the imagination that football is called the ultimate team sport.
That's what makes role players so important and so valuable, especially with the injury rate in the NFL.
"That's the NBA," said Campbell. "That's your guys coming off the bench. Those are valuable minutes.
"You need some production out of those guys."
Wright and Kennedy had their moments in key situations and came through with clutch plays as follows:
Wright, in his second season with the Lions, has played all nine games and made his fourth start. He played 46 of the 62 offensive snaps.
Goff targeted him once. That was midway through the second quarter. Wright ran a delayed route, from left to right, that left him wide open in the end zone to make the catch and give the Lions a 10-3 lead.
The play could not have been executed better if Wright had done it in practice with no defenders on the field.
Kennedy has been on and off the practice squad since becoming a Lion in 2019.
He has played five games this season, with one start, and has seven catches on 14 targets. Catch No. 7 was a big one.
Kennedy played 38 snaps and had been targeted once Sunday when he lined up on third and eight at the Lions' 42 with a little more than three minutes left and Chicago holding a 30-24 lead.
Lined up to Goff's right, Kennedy cut over the middle to catch the pass from Goff and sprinted down the left sideline for a gain of 44 yards to the 14.
Two plays later – a 13-yard catch by Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jamaal Williams' one-yard run for the touchdown – the Lions had a 31-30 lead that held up for a victory thanks to a heroic stand by the defense that thwarted Chicago's final possession.
QB style: Fields puts on a show. He can run, and he's fun to watch. In the last two games he has rushed for 325 yards, but the Bears have lost twice to the Dolphins and Lions.
Goff is more of a tradition quarterback – a drop-back passer who does his best work in the pocket. In the last two games Goff has been credited with five carries for 13 yards, and the Lions have won twice – over the Packers and Bears.
Campbell progress report: At this point last season the Lions had ended an eight-game losing streak by tying the Pittsburgh Steelers. They were still searching for a first win that did not come until Week 13 when they beat the Vikings to make their record 1-10-1.
They got their third win in the final game of the season over the Packers.
They're far ahead of last year's schedule at 3-6, but with work to do.
Growing up: The Lions have one of the NFL's youngest rosters, and the young Lions are aging well together. That's evident in their play of late.
"They're growing," Campbell said. "More importantly, they're growing together. They're starting to figure each other out. They're starting to trust each other and trust what they've been given.
"Every little success you have here, when you're able to overcome some things, you grow and get some confidence."