Lions Take Advantage of National Coverage with Win over Defending Super Bowl Champs

Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions passes at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 7, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo.
Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions passes at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 7, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo. Photo by Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Week one is in the books, and the Lions bandwagon is heavier than ever. Technically, the Lions weren’t supposed to win Thursday. Even without superstar Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones, the defending Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs were still favored by five points. The Lions snapped a five-game losing streak in home openers, and it was in front of a television audience of nearly 27 million, up 24 percent from last year’s opener of 21.7 million for Bills-Rams.

According to ESPN Analytics, the Chiefs had an 80 percent chance to win with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter and a 64 percent chance with 7:49 in the fourth. The script flipped when David Montgomery’s fourth quarter touchdown run put the Lions up 21-20, giving the Lions a 52 percent chance to win. Then, a first down run, gave the Lions an 80 percent chance with 2:00 on the clock.

The Detroit Lions sealed the deal with 1:42 left on the clock, when Montgomery’s third down and 2 yard run reached the line to gain a first down, forcing the Chiefs to use their last timeout. The Lions used the remaining plays to let the time run out. A mixture of 73,522 boos, cheers, and utter shock consumed Arrowhead Stadium as the boys in Honolulu Blue completed the upset.

One reporter asked Mahomes if he felt embarrassed for losing on national TV and following the Super Bowl banner presentation. He said, “It’s embarrassing for me to lose anytime.”

Jared Goff continued his streak of passes without an interception at 359 (knock on wood), making him 43 away from Aaron Rodgers’ record at 402. Second-year defensive end, Aiden Hutchinson, had a career high six quarterback pressures. Unsung hero right guard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, allowed zero quarterback pressures across 37 pass blocking plays.

Next Gen Stats provides teams with data to analyze trends and player performance while enhancing the fans’ experience in-stadium, online and during game telecasts.

The “Fastest Ball Carriers” stat shows the maximum speed, measured in Miles Per Hour (MPH), a player achieves on a given play when carrying the ball. Strong safety Brian Branch reached an astounding 20.70 MPH on his 50-yard, one-handed pick 6, landing him as the fifth-fastest ball carrier in week one.

The “Incredible YAC” (yards after catch) stat accounts for receiver speed, separation, defender location, and more. Detroit’s wide receiver Josh Reynolds is in 11th place after his 17-yard reception. His expected YAC was 2 yards, but he turned it into 17. “Remarkable Rushes” isolates the performance of an individual ball carrier from the contributions of the offensive line, scheme and situation. It showcases “Rush Yards Over Expected” when the rusher greatly defies expectations. Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs ranked in 14th place league-wide on his 18-yard run where he rushed 13 yards over expected.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, before Thursday, the Lions had the 9th best odds to win the Super Bowl and jumped one spot up since their win. The Lions began the season with a 62.3 percent chance to reach the playoffs, now it’s 77.8 percent. Their 41.7 percent odds to win the NFC North has gone up to 56.6 percent. It didn’t hurt that the Vikings, the Lion’s biggest divisional competition, fell to the Buccaneers in week one.

In the post-game locker room speech, Dan Campbell said, “I told you guys, we’re built for this shit. But we got a ton to clean up when we get back.” How can you not love him? As seen in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” last year, Campbell goes for it on fourth down more than anyone in the league, which helped the Lions win over the Chiefs. Campbell’s decision to run a fake punt on 4th and two from his own 17 was the first time a team went for it inside of their own 20-yard line since 2019.

Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid was asked about the fake punt, “Did it catch you by surprise?” He said, “We were ready for anything. They got us on it.”

The hype is real, and the Lions are better than a fringe team. If you can beat Mahomes in his house, you can beat anyone, anywhere. But one game is only one game. And Detroit now has a target on their back.

Jared Goff was asked after the game, “What does this win mean for the team and for the city of Detroit?” He said, “It means, we’re 1-0.”

There may be doubters given the 37-31 overtime loss to the Seahawks last week. But, this still may be the year the Lions could turn into becoming a real playoff contender. The Lions have the ninth-easiest schedule in the league, and their main rival, the Minnesota Vikings, are currently 0-2.