Lions head coach Dan Campbell was confident early in the week his team would bounce back from a loss in Chicago where no Lions unit played particularly well.
"I just know what kind of locker room we've got, what kind of players and we will respond," Campbell said. "We will respond."
Boy did they.
Detroit played arguably their most complete football game of the season on primetime Saturday night at Ford Field, beating Denver, 42-17, to improve to 10-4 on the year and take a commanding three-game lead in the NFC North with three games remaining.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw five touchdown passes and led six touchdown drives, Detroit's defense had one of their best all-around performances of the season, and the special teams units were perfect.
After a scoreless first quarter where both offenses were trying to find their footing, Detroit opened up the scoring with a 19-yard Sam LaPorta touchdown reception. LaPorta made a man miss then broke a tackle diving into the end zone for the game's first points.
Detroit made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter on a 9-yard pass from Goff to rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who surpassed 1,000 scrimmage yards on the season Saturday.
Detroit made it 21-0 right before the half on Goff's third touchdown, a 15-yarder to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who dove and flipped his way across the goal line.
Detroit out-gained Denver 279 yards to just 75 in the first half.
Denver scored their first points of the game on their first possession of the second half on a Russell Wilson to Lil'Jordan Humphrey 3-yard touchdown pass.
But Detroit responded right back with an eight-play-75-yard drive capped off by LaPorta's second touchdown of the game, this one a 3-yarder.
After a Denver field goal cut the lead to 28-10, Goff and the offense were back at it going 75 yards again in six plays culminating with Gibbs' second touchdown of the game, this one a 12-yard run.
Denver added a late Wilson 1-yard touchdown run after the outcome had been decided.
Detroit put the exclamation point on the win with LaPorta's third touchdown catch of the game with just over two minutes remaining. It was his ninth touchdown catch of the season, which sets a new Lions rookie record regardless of the position.
QB Comparison: Goff was terrific in this one. He completed 24 of his 34 passes for 278 yards with five touchdowns, no picks and a 134.6 passer rating. It was a season high for touchdown passes and passer rating for Goff.
Wilson finished 18-of-32 passing for 223 yards with a touchdown pass, a touchdown run and a lost fumble (Isaiah Buggs).
Big moment: Detroit built a 21-0 halftime lead, but it didn't really feel safe given their third-quarter woes all season on both sides of the ball. Denver received the opening kickoff and proceeded to go 75 yards in 10 plays – aided by a 44-yard pass interference penalty – and scored their first points of the game on a Wilson to Humphrey 3-yard touchdown pass.
The big moment was Detroit's response.
Goff and the offense marched 75 yards themselves on eight plays and put the lead right back to 21 points on LaPorta's second touchdown grab of the game. That was a huge response for the Lions' offense.
Key stat: Detroit had their top five offensive linemen start for just the fourth time this season and they were particularly dominant in the run game. They opened up huge holes for Gibbs and David Montgomery all night as Detroit finished with 185 rushing yards. Gibbs had 100 yards on 11 carries (9.1 avg.) and Montgomery had 85 yards on 17 carries (5.0). Detroit out-rushed Denver 185 to 83.
Injury report: Linebacker Derrick Barnes left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury but was able to return in the second half.
Tight end Brock Wright left the game with a groin injury and did not return to action. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and also did not return.
Up next: at Minnesota (7-7), Dec. 24, 1 p.m.