Motor City Mayhem pulled up to the house of the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night to kick off the 2023 NFL season.
Carrying the same momentum they had after winning eight of their last 10 games in 2022, the Detroit Lions stunned the Super Bowl 57 champs 21-20. In the process, Detroit set off the alarm across the league that the Lions are uncaged, roaring, and just tamed the juggernaut that’s won two Super Bowls in the last four seasons.
Detroit Lions Shock Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead
There were so many signature moments and key Lions players who stepped up in their Week 1 win. But there was also some gutsy decision-making from head coach Dan Campbell that clearly set the tone.
Campbell’s Gutsy 4-and-2 Decision Inside Own Red Zone
Most football purists believe offenses being backed behind their own 20-yard line and facing fourth down should punt.
Campbell, though, went straight to his gambler bag and called this dice-rolling play on 4th-and-2 at their own 17:
DAN CAMPBELL IS A GAMBLER 🎲 pic.twitter.com/5tBm7buYrT
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 8, 2023
Campbell’s gamble turned out to be a bright move. Fittingly, the “Sun God” Amon-Ra St. Brown ended up proving how bright Campbell’s decision was, ending the drive with the first touchdown of the 2023 season:
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 8, 2023
Aaron Glenn Was in His Bag on the Defensive Side
Campbell wasn’t the only one who was in an attack mode from the headset.
So was his defensive coordinator, Aaron Glenn. And an evening like Thursday may have elevated his chances of becoming a future head coach in 2024.
Facing a loaded yet Travis Kelce-less Chiefs aerial assault, Glenn’s unit still had plenty of speed to contain. But the former Pro Bowl cornerback bottled the Chiefs with these highlights:
- Zero plays of more than 40 yards.
- Only two touchdown passes allowed — none more than five yards.
- No Chiefs pass catchers surpassed 50 receiving yards.
- No Chiefs pass catchers caught 5+ receptions.
And if Glenn was secretly trying to place the game in the hands of Kadarius Toney, he was immensely successful as Toney settled for one catch and one yard. He was also the wideout on the botched catch attempt that became a pick-six for rookie Brian Branch.
Jahmyr Gibbs Proves He’s Worth the Hype, Plus Worth High Draft Pick
Before the NFL Draft, Jahmyr Gibbs was called an “extremely instinctive runner” by PFN’s Ian Cummings. However, Gibbs was viewed as no higher than a second-round prospect.
He ended up going No. 12 overall to the Lions. And early runs like this point to why the Lions took him so high:
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 8, 2023
But that wasn’t all from the Alabama Crimson Tide standout. This head-turning moment late in the game helped keep the momentum on Detroit’s side:
Jahmyr Gibbs running with a purpose 💪
— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2023
Gibbs ended up averaging six yards a carry on the champs as he showed his concoction of speed, vision, power, and violent finishing ability. That running style — especially in a city where Billy Sims and Barry Sanders were revered — is capable of instantly making Gibbs a fan favorite in the Motor City.
Is Aidan Hutchinson Quicker Than Before?
The Lions may not have gotten to Patrick Mahomes. However, Aidan Hutchinson brought a relentless motor to disrupt the star QB’s momentum.
The Michigan Wolverine hit the spin move twice on Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor to get Mahomes in duress. And even when he commanded attention, the play still ended with Hutchinson chasing Mahomes instead of lying on his back.
His motor wasn’t the only thing noticeable in K.C., though.
Brought up by ESPN Sports Analytics writer Seth Walder, Hutchinson’s average pass rush get off — measured by how quick he gets to the line of scrimmage — is faster than last year.
“Aidan Hutchinson’s average pass rush get off (time to cross LOS) has been 0.72 seconds tonight through 15 pass rushes, per NFL Next Gen Stats. His average last season was 0.88 seconds. That’s a *huge* difference if sustained,” Walder shared on X.
In the end, NGS calculated that Hutchinson delivered a 0.77-second pass-rush get-off attacking Mahomes.
Jared Goff Owns Notable Stat vs. Mahomes
The Lions quarterback now has a 2-0 record against Mahomes.
His other win? The epic 2018 meeting with Mahomes and the Chiefs that ended in a 54-51 shootout victory for the Goff-led Los Angeles Rams.
His numbers were watered down from that 413-yard, four-touchdown evening at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Goff went 22 of 35 for 253 yards and tossed just one touchdown on Thursday night. However, he was sharp on in-breaking routes from his receivers, generating 168 yards and the St. Brown TD, per NGS.
While the rest of the NFL world was stunned that the defending champs went down (the second season in a row the defending Super Bowl winner dropped the opener), Goff let it be known to NBC’s Melissa Stark that the Lions now expect to win those types of games.
“We come into every game expecting to win,” Goff said after the win. “We’re excited to get back home now.”