Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 24-17 victory against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: For the second straight season, the Lions will leave September with a 3-1 record. However, this Lions team appears to have been better equipped to handle it. Detroit dealt with injuries throughout the game -- running back was the group hit this Sunday -- as well as new players handling different roles this week, including linebacker Tahir Whitehead and tight end Eric Ebron.

That the Lions were able to win fairly convincingly anyway is a good indication of what this team could be over the next few weeks. There are two more winnable games before a showdown against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 19.

Detroit still has some injury-related questions at this point, but the Lions look to be headed in a good direction a month into the season.

Stock Watch: Rising -- Golden Tate. The No. 2 receiver for the Lions had a No. 1-type day with Calvin Johnson limited. Tate had eight catches for 116 yards and showed exactly why Detroit went after him in free agency. Also rising is the Lions' defense. It is still not a great unit without Stephen Tulloch and has some more holes now, but Teryl Austin called a good game, including his strategy of mixing up nickel packages with Glover Quin and Danny Gorrer, depending on the run/pass situation. Falling -- injuries. The Lions had a lot of them Sunday. Running back Joique Bell left the game with a head injury. Backs Montell Owens and Theo Riddick had hamstring injuries. That could leave the Lions thin at an important offensive position next week.

Johnson limited: Calvin Johnson didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. He was limited on Friday. That showed on Sunday, when the Lions’ star receiver was clearly nowhere near 100 percent. He rotated in and out of the lineup even more than he has usually and was used as a decoy more often than not, sometimes blocking on passing plays. In all, Matthew Stafford targeted him only twice Sunday, and while he caught both passes, he had nowhere near the burst he typically does.

Game ball: If you’re looking for a reason why the Lions won the game, it was Tate. This was an offense last year that would have flailed about with Johnson as limited as he was. Instead, the Lions still scored three touchdowns and got contributions from the entire offense. But Tate played the role of catalyst, receiving the most targets and the most attention from Stafford.

What’s next: The Lions return home for the Jim Schwartz reunion game against the Buffalo Bills.