Lions @ Chargers
Final Score: Lions 41, Chargers 38
Writer: Nick Beaudoin
With a slate-high O/U of 48.5, Vegas was predicting a shootout. They certainly weren’t wrong, but even they didn’t see this coming.
Both teams came in with aggressive game plans, combining for 954 all-purpose yards, 79 total points, eight 4th-down attempts, and apparently zero players on either defensive side of the ball. The Lions looked dominant early, gaining 175 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in the first half alone, but Justin Herbert continued putting the team on his back and gave the Chargers a chance against all odds. In the end, it wouldn’t be enough, as the Chargers did what the Chargers do, allowing the Lions a game-winning drive as time expired.
4th and 5 and they run right up the middle. I love this Lions team.
They know exactly who they are. pic.twitter.com/RO2hHGXwFQ
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) November 12, 2023
- Jared Goff – Goff looked comfortable and accurate all day long, leading his team to 7-2, and a likely QB1 finish on the week
- Jahmyr Gibbs / David Montgomery – The gruesome twosome combined for 193 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the day
- Justin Herbert – A gutsy performance from Herbert in all phases, and a guaranteed QB1 finish on the day
- Keenan Allen – 11 receptions, 175 yards and two touchdowns. Another unstoppable performance.
- Austin Ekeler – 115 all-purpose yards and one touchdown from the veteran puts him right back in RB1 territory
- Quentin Johnston – Despite catching his first career touchdown, Johnston was unable to get much going when his team needed him.
- The Lions Defense – Despite boasting a supposedly stout defensive line, the Lions came away with zero sacks, and were unable to make stops against a depleted Chargers offense. This won’t fly in the playoffs, assuming they consider themselves a true contender this year.
Jared Goff: 23/33, 333 Yards, 2 TDs | 3 Carries, -2 Yards
Jared Goff played methodical, surgical football, picking apart the Chargers’ secondary and taking his team to 7-2, currently sitting comfortably at the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Despite the Chargers coming in 2nd in the league in sacks, Goff stood calmly in the pocket all day long, rarely seeing pressure and not being hit once. In all his free time, he picked up some new hobbies, finished a few books, and played mistake-free football, converting three of four fourth down attempts, including the game-clinching pass to Sam LaPorta, setting up the game-winning field goal as time ran out.
When Goff was traded to the Lions, he was essentially a throw-away in the trade, with the Rams including multiple high-end picks in a deal that landed them Matthew Stafford. Goff was widely viewed as a “bridge” QB for the rebuilding Lions, and if you wagered with me at that time that this move would be a blessing in disguise, I would have mortgaged my house against you. However, here we are. Goff is playing the best football of his career, the city of Detroit has been revitalized, and the Lions have become a fantasy gold mine. What a story, and what a team to root for.
- The Lions were stuffed at the end zone in the first quarter. They converted two fourth down attempts on that drive already, but Goff was forced to throw the ball away on fourth and goal from the one-yard line.
— Bridget Condon (@BridgetCondon_) November 13, 2023
Jahmyr Gibbs: 14 Carries, 77 Yards, 2 TDs | 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 35 Yards
The Chargers came into this game allowing just 89.6 yards/game on the ground, ranking 6th in the NFL, but were completely outmatched today by the league’s best RB duo and PFF’s No. 1 ranked offensive line. Jahmyr Gibbs was the second back to see the field but has arguably taken over the RB1 role in the offense. Gibbs was more explosive from the start, taking a pitch to the right, bursting through the hole, cutting back across the field, beating the defenders, and embracing contact down to the one-yard line. Gibbs remained in the game, taking the next play for a one-yard touchdown, as Montgomery managers hung their heads. Montgomery would do his own damage in time, but the most notable item in this backfield was that Gibbs scored two goal-line touchdowns, while Montgomery was unable to convert on his goal-line opportunities.
Gibbs came into the week with 315 scrimmage yards over the past two games, leading the NFL in that span. He was the quickest player on the field, breaking ankles, and making electric plays in the rushing and receiving games. He showed excellent receiving capabilities, turning a screen pass into a 24-yard gain early on, and displayed great hands and focus converting a tipped pass into a first down late in the game. The analytical folks who scoffed at the Lions using the No. 12 overall pick on Gibbs may now be revisiting their spreadsheets. Nerds.
- David Montgomery took a few goal-line opportunities but was unable to convert.
— Barstool Detroit (@BSMotorCity) November 12, 2023
David Montgomery: 12 Carries, 116 Yards, TD
David Montgomery was the first RB on the field but would split work with Gibbs for the remainder of the game. On an early 4th-and-5, the Lions went to shotgun, feeding Montgomery right up the middle for a first down. Three plays later on 3rd-and-6, they ran the same play, coming just a few inches short. It is clear that Montgomery is healthy, and the Lions coaching staff still has full trust in him and their offensive line. Montgomery appeared to be playing his way into a backup role, until…
Keenan Allen scored his first touchdown, closing the gap and making the game 17-10. On the very next play from their own 25-yard line, Montgomery took the handoff to the right, one-cut back to the hole on the left, and burst untouched into the second level. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo recapped the play, deeming a .1% probability of scoring a touchdown, but perhaps in fear of losing his job to an emerging rookie, Montgomery turned on a gear we haven’t seen before.
He cut hard to the left, causing three Chargers defenders to collide, and took off down the sideline. Jameson Williams may not be the playmaker so far that the Lions had hoped for, but he ran side-by-side with Montgomery, making the block that turned this from just a big gain, into a 75-yard touchdown. Behind PFF’s No. 1 OL, both of these RBs should have fantasy relevance every week.
- Montgomery had two straight opportunities from inside the two-yard line in the second quarter but was stuffed twice. The Lions turned over on downs on the one-yard line.
- He had zero targets in this game, which was discouraging for his usage going forward. His involvement in the receiving game will likely be scaled back with Gibbs’ commanding more playing time.
David Montgomery 75 yards to the house! ? pic.twitter.com/r3VI9IGNDb
— LionsFanReport (@lionsfanreport) November 12, 2023
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 9 Targets, 8 Receptions, 156 Yards, TD | 2 Carries, 9 Yards
Amon-Ra St. Brown made an impact immediately, taking a post behind the safety for a 47-yard gain on the Lions’ fourth offensive play. St. Brown and Goff seem to have an unstoppable connection, with six of his last seven games ending in 100+ yards receiving. Late in the third quarter, Goff found him for a 25-yard gain on 3rd-and-2 and turned a screen pass into a 20-yard touchdown on the very next play.
OC Ben Johnson seems to regularly draw him open, but Goff deserves credit for hitting some tight windows that only an elite QB can hit. Despite another elite receiving performance from ARSB, my favorite play was actually a beautifully designed fake pitch to Gibbs that Amon-Ra took as an inside handoff for six yards to the opposite side of the field. He is used in a variety of ways and is a WR1 weekly in this offense. There were 16 other WRs drafted before St. Brown was taken in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he currently leads them all in receptions in his young career, including Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and more.
- Goff almost hit him for a deep touchdown immediately after the Justin Herbert interception in the first quarter. The pass was well-read and well-played by the defender.
- He caught a nine-yard pass and was tackled at the one-yard line, which inevitably resulted in a turnover on downs.
— Sideline Daily (@sideline_daily) November 12, 2023
Kalif Raymond: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 46 Yards
Raymond had a few targets early but made his first catch with about 3 minutes left in the game. He ran a crossing route opposite of a play-action bootleg and was left wide open, turning a five-yard reception into a 41-yard gain.
- He dropped a (would-have-been first down) back shoulder pass that hit him in the hands in the first quarter.
Jameson Williams: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 18 Yards
Jameson Williams appeared to be on his way to a decent game with a first-quarter touchdown, but it was called back on a (questionable) offensive penalty. His name wasn’t called on much after that, but Dan Campbell is a team-oriented coach, and his downfield block that opened up the Montgomery touchdown will likely earn him brownie points within the organization.
- Jameson turned a screen pass into a 10-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game, but it was called back on an illegal block.
Sam LaPorta: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 40 Yards
Sam LaPorta seemed to be a forgotten man in the offense until late in the game. His best catch came on 3rd-and-2 in the 4th quarter, resulting in a 19-yard gain. He later made the game-clinching reception on 4th-and-2, allowing the Chargers to run the clock, and kick the game-winning field goal. Getting targets in situational football like this is important to note. He has earned Goff’s trust and will be a big part of this offense for years to come. I wouldn’t fret as a LaPorta manager.
Brock Wright: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 23 Yards
It’s 3rd-and-1 with 7:42 remaining in the game. Ben Johnson dials up heavy formation, play action, and backup TE Brock Wright beats everyone over the top for a touchdown. Nobody saw it coming.
— Barstool Detroit (@BSMotorCity) November 12, 2023
Josh Reynolds: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 15 Yards
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 27/40, 323 Yards, 4 TDs, INT | 4 Carries, 15 Yards
You have to feel for Justin Herbert after a truly gutsy performance. Despite still clearly being impacted by his fractured finger. Despite the myriad of injuries this offense has faced (with even more today). Despite his defense allowing 175 rushing yards in the first half alone. Justin Herbert put this team on his back today.
With his finger taped up, the offense was forced to run over 90% of their plays from shotgun, making the Chargers offense “one dimensional,” and making it difficult to establish any sort of run game against a solid Lions defensive line. With Mike Williams and Josh Palmer both on IR, this team has only two reliable playmakers, and Herbert looked their way early and often. Herbert gutted this one out, even converting three 4th-down plays into TDs, with the most electric being a 38-yard TD pass to Keenan Allen, tying the game late in the fourth. Despite Herbert’s heroics, the Chargers inevitably did what they do, caving under pressure, and waving politely as the Lions completed their game-winning drive.
- With 3:45 remaining in the first quarter, Herbert felt pressure and overthrew Allen for an interception, just his fifth of the season
- Herbert had two failed QB sneaks at the goal line in the fourth quarter. These were questionable calls for your QB with a broken finger, and he had to visit the medical tent with a bloody mouth after the drive.
KEENAN ALLEN TOUCHDOWN ON 4TH & 1!
The game is tied at 38. pic.twitter.com/LpYwQ4zGu3
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) November 12, 2023
Austin Ekeler: 19 Carries, 67 Yards, TD | 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 48 Yards
On the second drive of the game, Austin Ekeler took a screen pass for a 24-yard gain. He later made a short reception across the middle, cutting past LB Alex Anzalone, gaining 15 up the middle of the field. Although Ekeler and the offense struggled to find running room most of the day, he was able to make chunk plays out of nothing on several occasions and scored his fourth touchdown in three games on a one-yard touchdown late in the first half. The Chargers came into the game “boasting” the 31st-best run-blocking grade (according to PFF), which is something they will most certainly need to improve if they hope to work their way back into Wild Card status. Fortunately for Ekeler, his skill set applies to any game script, and this offense desperately needs him moving forward.
- Ekeler was stuffed twice on 3rd-and-goal to open the 4th quarter, resulting in QJ’s first career touchdown
ek punches it in
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) November 12, 2023
Joshua Kelley: 5 Carries, 16 Yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Keenan Allen: 14 Targets, 11 Receptions, 175 Yards, 2 TDs
Keenan Allen put together another absolutely dominant performance, lining up all over the field and creating mismatches against the entire secondary. With a 35% target share, we all knew where the ball was going, but even then, there was little the Lions’ secondary could do.
Through the first three quarters, he was essentially the only receiving option on the team. His first TD came on a “post with a little wiggle,” as so eloquently described by Mr. Romo, for a 29-yard TD with 3:21 remaining in the first half. He made big play after big play, including four separate third-down conversions, and the game-tying 38-yard TD on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Keenan is the all-time leader averaging 6.4 receptions/game in his career (today could only have helped), and continues his WR1 campaign over the 2023 season.
- Allen missed some time in the third and fourth quarter, heading into the locker room with a shoulder injury. He was able to return, and still could not be stopped.
Keenan Allen just put Jack Campbell DOWN pic.twitter.com/PKjYJWqFCf
— NFL on CBS ? (@NFLonCBS) November 12, 2023
Quentin Johnston: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 34 Yards, TD
Although this stat line looks promising, and he celebrated his first-ever TD with a classy Michael Jackson rendition, it was still not a great day for the rookie. He had several opportunities for what could have been game-changing plays, including what would have been a 75-yard TD in the third quarter, if he could hold onto the ball. He also completely whiffed on his assignment on a screen pass to Derius Davis, hanging him out to dry right after the catch.
With that being said, he also drew three separate defensive pass interference penalties, which do not show up on the box score, but did help put points on the board. You have to be happy for the kid, but with injuries all around, he will need to step up down the stretch, and none of his receptions were truly him beating his defender. They were more on Herbert extending plays and him finding sitting in a zone, or the touchdown was on a well-designed fake pitch to Ekeler, where Keenan returned from the medical tent just to stand as a decoy on the opposite side of the field, which took away all of the defensive attention.
- He had two (just) misses from Herbert that could have ended in huge plays, if not touchdowns. In his defense, both were called for DPI, and extended the drive. So they would have been great plays. Maybe my standards are too high, and he needs more time to develop, but we’ve seen Jordan Addison and Jaxon Smith-Njigba step up in their opportunities. I just would like to see the young rookie, who was known for struggling with drops out of college, make a great play and live up to his potential.
4th and goal ➡️ first career TD for Quentin Johnston
— NFL (@NFL) November 12, 2023
Jalen Guyton: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 41 Yards, TD
Jalen Guyton was inefficient and quiet to start the game but stepped up the moment Keenan Allen went down, with a beautiful throw from Herbert, “threading” the defenders for his first TD in two years. Guyton showed a little potential of what he was before his knee injury last year and will need to build on this performance with the Chargers in desperate need of playmakers.
- Couldn’t convert on a back-shoulder fade in the second quarter. Mike Williams would have had it.
just an absolute dime
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) November 12, 2023
Gerald Everett: 2 Targets
Gerald Everett left early in the game with a back injury and did not return. His status will need to be monitored throughout the week.
Derius Davis: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 7 Yards
Donald Parham: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 18 Yards
Stone Smartt: 3 Targets
MCDC just went for it on 4th and 2 in field goal range.. tie ball game.. under 2 minutes in the 4th..
Old Lions never pick that up.. BRAND NEW LIONS there was NEVER A DOUBT
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 13, 2023