Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is looking forward to heading out on the road next week to take on the Green Bay Packers with a playoff spot potentially up for grabs.
The Lions rebounded from last week’s defeat by beating the Chicago Bears 41-10 on Sunday, picking up seven wins from their last nine games and improving their record to 8-8.
There was also a story behind the second overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft when Lions running back Aidan Hutchinson scored his third interception to tie the record for the most by a defensive lineman in a season in the Super Bowl era.
Hutchinson also shared a sack with teammate Ifeatu Melifonwu, one of Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ seven total sacks.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Campbell noted Wednesday’s fully padded practice as a rallying point for his team facing a tough quarterback matchup with the season on the line.
“We went to full pads on Wednesday and said we’d get our identity back and we were going to recalibrate, and these guys did,” he said.
“They trusted us, they left and that was it. It looked like we were ready to play, it looked like we were more physical. I was proud of them.
“Here’s the hard thing about playing a guy like that [Justin] Fields, man. If you just step off the edge and lose control, it’s gone.
“So you have to be able to use some force and close his pocket, but you can’t get involved one way or the other because he’ll break again.
“When all this happens, our back-end has to cover its back for five, six, seven seconds at a time. You will drop a few hold calls, it’s not an easy task.
“But overall, I thought we were back on defense. We were much more physical, we got takeaways, we got sacks, we got in the way.”
Detroit’s victory will keep the season going for at least another week, and Campbell said he feels blessed to have the chance to play in January’s big game at the famed Lambeau Field.
“I think that means everything,” he said. “I think he’s just unique – he’s as good as it gets, seriously.
“You can go to Lambeau – historic Lambeau – where Green Bay has been the pinnacle of this division for years, with a chance to earn the right to a potential entry.
“Even if we win, it doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed to get in. But I do know one thing, we’re guaranteed to get one more week, so I think that’s as special as it gets. I don’t think you want otherwise.”
The Lions will rely on another strong performance from quarterback Jared Goff, who Campbell says is “extremely hot” after his three-time touchdown.
“He’s got a ton of confidence now and he’s had it for a while,” he said. “He’s been playing pretty well all year.
“You can just say he’s in this mode now where you feel like every time you pick a pass he’s going to find someone. He’ll find a roll, he’ll get it to a guy who’s open minded.
“It’s a great feeling, man. To feel your quarterback is in that mode and he was there is a great feeling.”
Sam Goff played in playoff games and led the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance, but he continued to reaffirm the importance of just having a shot at the postseason.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Not every team, players, young boys have the opportunity to play in such matches.
“There are a lot of guys here who for the first half of their career didn’t get a chance to play in a January game that means something and we’re going to get that chance next week.
“Whether it gets us or not is not up to us, but we’re going out there and trying to win and we’ll see where it all falls down in the end.”