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O'HARA: What we learned from Week 13

Head coach Dan Campbell and his staff know what they have and don't have on their roster as the Detroit Lions move closer to clinching a playoff berth.

Campbell made that clear in a postgame interview after Sunday's 33-28 road win over the New Orleans Saints.

What we learned is that the turnover ratio is vital to the Lions' success. Among the other things we've learned is quarterback Jared Goff's ability to close out games, and the value of a veteran defensive lineman.

We start with Campbell and turnovers.

The Lions had been on the wrong end of the turnover ratio of late. They gave up three interceptions and a fumble in a win over Chicago two weeks ago, and three fumbles in a loss to Green Bay a week ago.

They reversed that Sunday in New Orleans. They had an interception and a fumble recovery, without committing a turnover.

They converted both turnovers into touchdowns.

"It's who we have to be," Campbell said. "That's got to be our recipe. We desperately need to play football that way. Take care of the ball. Our defense gives us something.

"We can stay in any game, and we can fight with anybody."

The Closer: That's what Goff has been in the last month. The win over the Saints was another example of what Goff has done, in three of the last four games, as follows:

  • vs. Chargers: A fourth-down completion to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta to clinch a 41-38 win.
  • vs. Bears: Touchdowns on the last two possessions to clinch a 31-26 comeback win.
  • vs. Saints: Two third-down conversions to clinch a 33-28 win.
  • Exception: A loss to the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions scored on their last possession, but could not catch the onside kick.

Veteran help: Defensive lineman Bruce Irvin had played 138 NFL games and was credited with 55.5 sacks, but was without a team this season -- until the Lions signed him to the practice squad on Nov. 15.

Irvin was elevated for Sunday's game with the Saints, and he produced immediately. He played 11 snaps and had one sack.

At 36, Irvin is the oldest Lion, but he hasn't forgotten the way to the quarterback.

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