As many know, I am an avid, and diehard Detroit Lions fan. Its been that way my entire life. People always ask, how is someone from Tacoma, WA a Detroit Lions fan? It's because both of my parents were born and raised in Detroit. So with that settled, we can get into my review of the Detroit Lions 2022 season.
In the spring of 2022, HBO announced that the Lions had been chosen for their annual all-access look inside an NFL team 's training camp. There are certain criteria for being picked for the show, but it brings a good deal of notoriety and provides exclusive insight into the team's locker room for a few weeks. The show was a hit and sent chills down the spine of many Lions fans, including myself. Even people who aren't football or Lions fans enjoyed the show and were starting to like the Lions.
The Lions started off the season with a hurtful 3-point loss against the Eagles. Although we suffered defeat, I was widely impressed with how hard the Lions played, cultivating confidence for the rest of the season. Furthermore, the Eagles loss would prove to be a moral victory because the Eagles turned out the be the best teams in the NFC. The next week, we trounced the Washington Commanders in convincing fashion, 36-27. This victory also revealed two key observations early into the season: our offense was elite and our defense left a lot to be desired.
Our defensive struggles exploded as the Lions went on to lose their next five games, allowing an average of 32 points per game over that stretch, the worst in the NFL. Our offense had slowed down as well. Sitting at t 1-6 at this point in the season, most had written the Lions off, even some of their fans. Conversely, I'd held out hope because I'd seen some good things. Amon-Ra St. Brown was continuing his production from the previous season, our top draft pick Aiden Hutchinson was playing like a monster, our offensive line looked like one of the best in the league at times, and production from other rookies was promising.
Then, things started to shift. We won the next three games, improving our record to 4-6 before losing to one of the best teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills, by a field goal on Thanksgiving day. After sputtering early in the season, our defense had caught its stride, allowing less points, forcing more turnovers, and getting to the quarterback more. Moreover, after stalling for a few games, our offense returned to its place as one of the best in the league. Jared Goff was playing much better than expected, and taking good care of the football. Consequently, Detroit won 5 out of their last 6 games, finishing 9-8, its first winning season since 2017.
The final game of the season was the most paramount. For much of the season, the Lions were removed from the playoff picture. But with their winning streaks in the latter half of the season, they'd positioned themselves to be in the playoff hunt during the last few weeks; they just had to keep winning. Thanks to the Lions' triumph over the Commanders, in addition to the Commanders' loss in week 17, the Lions were playing for a playoff spot in week 18. So was our conference rival, Green Bay. With so much at stake, the NFL announced that the Lions and Packers would be notched for the primetime Sunday Night game on NBC, Detroit's first primetime game of the season.
In order for Detroit to reach the playoffs, we needed the Rams to beat the Seahawks, and then we just had to defeat the Packers at Lambeau Field, in January. With the Lions game scheduled for Sunday night, the Lions had to await the outcome of the Rams/Seahawks afternoon game. The undermatched Rams played the Seahawk playoff-hopefuls well, even forcing the game into overtime. Ultimately, they were unable to topple the Seahawks, losing 16-19, eliminating the Lions from playoff contention. Most fans were aware of this right away, but many of the Lions, who preparing for their game, were either unaware or didn't care about the outcome. Head Coach Dan Campbell had done a great job of preparing his players to play, regardless. Sideline announcers even asked Coach Campbell how the reduction of their playoff hopes would impact their resolve, and he responded by saying that it didn't. They could still play spoiler and defeat a rival conference opponent.
Overall, the game was back and forth. Aiden Hutchinson made a strong case for defensive rookie of the year with 2 more sacks. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph intercepted Aaron Rodgers again for the 3rd time in 2 games. Jared Goff appeared to be off, but he continued his streak of not committing any turnovers. With less on the line than the Packers, the Lions played some inspired football and defeated the Packers again, 20-16, sweeping them for the season and knocking them out of the playoff race.
Although we narrowly missed the playoffs, our season was not a lost cause. In fact, many found it to be encouraging. The Lions won eight out of their last 10 games to make a serious playoff push. Our offense was a huge bright spot, and our defense stepped up big time. In large part with the help of rookies Aiden Hutchinson and James Houston, who combined for 17.5 sacks. Hutch record 9.5 of those, leading all rookies. Houston recorded 3 of his in one game.
On the offensive side of the ball, St. Brown finished as the #2 receiver in the league, per Pro Football Focus. Jamaal Williams led the league in rushing touchdowns with 17, and even broke Barry Sanders' record of 16, which was a huge accomplishment. Jared Goff ended the season in the top 10 for passing yards (4,438), touchdowns (29). and interceptions (7). Rookie Jameson Williams showed some flashed as to how he can take the tops off of defenses and rookie Malcolm Rodriguez turned out to be steal, providing consistency and ferocity at the LB position. Center Frank Ragnow made it to the Pro Bowl for the 2nd time in his career. Kalif Raymond was also named a second-team All-Pro for his heroics as a punt and kick returner.
With a finish like this, many fans and sports media are excited about the Lions next year. Dan Campbell expressed his delight about a winning season, now the focus will be to make the playoffs and see what we can do there. ESPN football analyst Louis Riddick went far enough to say that he believes the Lions will be Super Bowl contenders next year. Though flattering, even I believe that may be jumping the gun just a bit. However, I am confident we will make the playoffs next year. Nevertheless, the Lions did show some great signs this year and a lot of improvement from the prior season. They just need to clean up their weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball through the draft and free agency, as well as continue gaining confidence as a winning team in a new culture.
Let me know how your team did below in the comments.