DETROIT – Jerry Jacobs almost teared up as he watched Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell hand defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn the game ball during Sunday’s postgame celebration.
The second-year Lions cornerback was among those celebrating inside the locker room after Detroit’s second victory of the season, a 15-9 win over the Green Bay Packers following a tumultuous week leading up to the contest.
After a disappointing 1-6 start, the Lions last week fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant and traded former Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota for draft picks.
Detroit’s defense entered the Packers game allowing 32.1 points per game -- the worst in the league. However, they used the changes to play inspired football, holding Green Bay to just nine points -- the fewest points allowed in a game this season by the Lions. They also forced quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw three red zone picks in the same game for the first time of his career.
Campbell let out a sigh of relief after the win that broke a five-game losing streak, and praised the defense, notably rookie edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson and safety Kerby Joseph, who both registered picks off Rodgers.
Hutchinson’s first career interception came in the second quarter, while Joseph picked him off twice before entering the concussion protocol after colliding head-to-head with teammate Jeff Okudah during the fourth quarter.
“Man, I was just playing with my instincts and doing what I do, so I made a play and it’s my first pick,” Hutchinson said. “Aaron was talking some s--- to me after, saying he gave me a 'freebie,' and I was like, ‘hey, freebie or not, I’ll take it.'”
Looking ahead, the Lions have some tough opponents over the next few weeks. Next Sunday, they’ll head to the Chicago Bears (1 p.m. ET, Fox), then travel to face the New York Giants on Nov. 20 before returning home for their annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, Nov. 24.
Detroit’s defense was able to force multiple turnovers in a game for the first time this season against Green Bay.
“I think it speaks to what the potential of our defense is,” Okudah said. “Something we’ve preached this whole season was playing four quarters of strong football, and I think this was the closest that we’ve come to that.”
Offensively, before the victory over the Packers, the Lions hadn’t scored in the second half of a game since the Week 4 shootout loss to Seattle. On Sunday, QB Jared Goff was able to find tight end James Mitchell on a three-yard touchdown pass at 14:51 in the fourth quarter. Finding ways to score in the second half has become a major point of emphasis to help the Lions close out some of those tough losses.
“Yeah, we needed it,” Goff said. “It’s kind of been -- maybe the difference over the last handful of weeks is if we scored at some point and we win those games.”
After the win, Campbell said he wanted to go home, put his feet up and drink a beer. He hasn’t celebrated many wins throughout his two-year coaching tenure in Detroit, but all the recent losses made the latest win that much more meaningful.
“I’m proud of those guys, because it’s easy to just get frustrated and go in the tank, but they came back," Campbell said. "And they believed in themselves, they believed the coaches were going to get them prepared and give them the best game plan to have success, and so they just came back to work like they have every week.
“Look, offensively, yeah it wasn’t as clean as it has been, but man, of course we want it to be cleaner. But we did get some first downs, we were able to run it a little bit and we got in the end zone down there, other than the fourth down. Yeah, of course we want to be better, but man, that was good enough to win today.”