The blazing Detroit Lions and Jared Goff keep coming up with new strategies to win.
The NFC North leaders defeated the floundering Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-6 on Sunday because to Jared Goff’s arm and a staunch defense, one week after improving on their best start in more than a decade sans injured standout receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Following a setback in overtime to the Seattle Seahawks, Goff threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns to help the Lions win their fourth straight game while Montgomery (ribs) and backup Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring) were both hurt.
The Lions have gotten off to their fastest start since 2011 at 5-1, and they also have the top record in the NFL.
“We’ve played well for six weeks. It’s four in a row for us. It’s a pretty good feeling, yeah, it certainly is,” Goff said.
“I can’t say enough about our defensive performance today and really for five games this year, to be honest with you,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Man, we’re just playing as one unit right now. When your defense only gives up six points it’s saying a lot.”
As Detroit won for the sixth time in eight road games going back to last season, Goff threw touchdown throws of 27 yards to Amon-Ra St. Brown and 45 yards to Jameson Williams, converting on third-and-13 in one case and third-and-10 in the other.
The Lions’ defense did its bit by forcing Tampa Bay to settle for field goals of 33 and 36 yards on its only two trips that ended in Detroit’s red zone, intercepting Baker Mayfield once, and the Buccaneers (3-2) to 251 yards of total offense.
“It was awful,” Mayfield said. “We didn’t start fast, we didn’t pick it up in the middle and we didn’t close strong. The Lions are a good ball club, but if we play like that we’ll lose every time.”
A tipped Mayfield pass was intercepted by Will Harris near the goal line, setting up Riley Patterson’s 30-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead. By completing an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a touchdown pass to St. Brown on third-and-13 from the Buccaneers’ 27, Goff gave Detroit the lead for good.
St. Brown caught a short pass on the left, ran across the middle of the field, and took a crucial block from running back Craig Reynolds, who knocked cornerback Carlton Davis III to the ground. This enabled the receiver to turn the corner, gain the first down, and then cross the goal line for a 10-3 advantage.
“They did a good job on third down. I think we were 2 for 12 on third down, which is not very good at all,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said, adding he felt his team, which leads the NFC South, was sluggish coming out of its bye week.
“We weren’t very good on first or second down either,” Bowles continued, “so you can say the whole game was a wash from an offensive standpoint.”
Goff was sacked three times and completed 30 of 44 passes without making an interception. St. Brown ended with 12 receptions for 124 yards, both season highs, after missing Detroit’s overwhelming victory over Carolina the previous week due to an abdominal injury.
206 yards and one interception came from Mayfield’s 19 of 37 attempts. The Buccaneers were only able to gain 46 yards on their 16 attempts.
Meanwhile, the Lions’ running total was limited to 40 yards on 22 attempts. Montgomery gained 14 yards on six carries before being hurt during his lone reception. In his place, Reynolds gained a team-high 15 yards on 10 rushes and 28 yards on two receptions.
Reynolds’ most noteworthy contribution was the block that allowed St. Brown to score.