The Detroit Lions' defense has taken the brunt of the criticism for the 1-6 start, but Sunday, they helped propel the team to a 15-9 victory at Ford Field against the Green Bay Packers.
Rookie safety Kerby Joseph picked off Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice, first in the end zone in the first quarter and then again at the Lions' 3-yard line in the third quarter. Fellow rookie and No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson also picked Rodgers off in the end zone in the second quarter. All three interceptions kept points off the board.
Then the defense came up with a critical stop on 4th and 10 at the Lions' 17-yard line to end the game and preserve the win. It was a gutsy performance.
The Lions got on the scoreboard right before the end of the first half on a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to tight end Shane Zylstra, who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday. It was his first career touchdown. After kicker Michael Badgley was run into on the extra point try, the Lions opted to go for two at the 1-yard line, and running back Jamaal Williams punched it in to give the Lions an 8-0 lead.
Green Bay finally got on the board late in the third quarter on a 20-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Allen Lazard, but the two couldn't connect on the two-point try, as Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah got his hand in to knock a pass to Lazard away.
Detroit's offense responded with a 13-play, 70-yard drive capped off by rookie tight end James Mitchell's first career touchdown, a 3-yarder. Badgley's extra point made it 15-6 Lions.
The Packers added a late 35-yard field goal, but Detroit's defense held them out of the end zone on their final possession to preserve the win.
QB comparison: Goff completed 14-of-26 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 78.5 passer rating.
Rodgers completed 23 of his 43 pass attempts with a touchdown and three interceptions for just a 53.5 rating.
Rookie contributions: Joseph, Hutchinson and Mitchell all came up big. Joseph and Hutchinson with back-to-back interceptions in the end zone to thwart Packers scoring attempts.
Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown.
Joseph left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and didn't return. He finished with 10 tackles, two interceptions and three passes defended. Hutchinson had two tackles to go along with the interception. Mitchell caught two passes for eight yards.
Key moment: Fourth and 10 at the Lions' 17-yard line with just 42 seconds left and the Lions holding on to a 15-9 lead and needing a play from the defense.
Detroit got great push upfront and forced Rodgers to throw a desperation heave into the end zone that fell incomplete. Terrific defense all around.
Injury report: Joseph left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a nasty hit by teammate Okudah as both players tried to make a tackle. Both players left the game and went to the locker room. Joseph was being evaluated for a concussion. Okudah returned to the game a short time later.
Running back Craig Reynolds left the game in the first half with a rib injury and didn't return to the contest in the second half.
Next up: at Chicago (3-6)