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Detroit Lions beat Los Angeles Rams in NFL Playoffs: 4 winners and losers, including Jared Goff

Detroit Lions win in the NFL Playoffs, jared Goff
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions have won their first playoff game in over 32 years. Fans inside Ford Field were treated to a great game between Detroit and the Los Angeles Rams.

Officiating played a role in the Lions defeating Los Angeles by the score of 24-23 in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game. That’s the unfortunate backdrop here.

But Jared Goff exacted revenge against his former Rams team by playing absolutely flawless football. Aidan Hutchinson spearheaded a Lions defense that held late in the fourth quarter to come away with the win.

Meanwhile, a questionable late-game decision by Rams head coach Sean McVay doomed the upstart team and wasted a stellar performance from Matthew Stafford. Here are four winners and losers from this epic NFC matchup Sunday night.

Related: NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Winner: Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff shines against his former team

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Goff was treated like a rockstar as he emerged from the tunnel on to the field inside Ford Field ahead of Sunday night’s game. The former Los Angeles Rams quarterback not only wanted to beat his old team, but he also made it clear that bringing the Lions their first playoff win in more than three decades was on his mind.

Detroit drove down the field 75 yards for touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game with Goff looking surgical on the field. That included a touchdown pass to star rookie tight end Sam LaPorta on fourth-and-goal with Detroit up 14-10.

In what was a close game throughout, Goff and his Lions needed to bleed the clock late in the fourth quarter. Up 24-23 with just over two minutes left, the quarterback hit David Montgomery for a huge first down to put this game away. With two minutes left, Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown to really put this game on ice.

Despite leading the Rams to a Super Bowl appearance during his time with the team, Goff was discarded like stale bread in favor of Stafford ahead of the 2021 season. He exacted revenge in this one, sending Detroit to its first appearance in the NFC Divisional Playoffs since all the way back in 1991. Just amazing stuff.

Related: Jared Goff standing among NFL starting quarterbacks

Loser: Officiating playing major role in Detroit Lions win

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, it was amazing to see Detroit get over the hump and win a playoff game in front of its home crowd. No one is going to discount that. It represented one of the most-memorable nights in the history of the franchise.

With that said, the officials inside Ford Field played a major role in the outcome of this game. With Los Angeles looking to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, the team was facing a third-and-14 from the Lions’ 44-yard line. That’s when it looked like Detroit cornerback Cameron Sutton committed pass interference on Puka Nacua.

This was blatant. If officials on hand inside Ford Field would have called this, Los Angeles could’ve either gone in for the go-ahead touchdown or bled the clock for the game-winning field goal. Instead, the Rams were forced to punt. We hate to see an outcome of a playoff game decided, in part, by a bad non-call.

Related: Los Angeles Rams’ Kyren Williams injured in fourth quarter

Winner: Aidan Hutchinson continues with recent resurgence

detroit lions' aidan hutchinson
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

This sophomore from Michigan (literally) was brilliant throughout the final two games of the regular season, recording a combined 10 QB hits, seven tackles for loss and five sacks. Detroit knew that he had to be a key cog to stop what has been a dominant Rams offense.

Hutchinson more than lived up to his title as a linchpin on the Lions’ defense. The youngster recorded five quarterback hits, two sacks and two more tackles for loss. He was absolutely dominant throughout.

If Hutchinson is able to keep this up against either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Philadelphia Eagles next week, the Lions could very well be headed to the NFC Championship Game.

Related: NFL Playoff schedule

Loser: Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay with questionable decision

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Remember that bad non-call we brought up earlier? Well, that was followed up by McVay opting to punt on fourth-and-14 from Detroit’s 44-yard line rather than go for it. There was just over four minutes remaining with the Rams having one timeout remaining. At this point in the game, Puka Nacua had gone for a single-game rookie playoff record 181 yards.

Los Angeles’ defense was not able to get the ball back for its electric offense with Goff going into victory formation after the Lions got two big first downs.

Call it Monday morning quarterbacking or something else, but this was certainly a questionable decision from McVay given the game dynamic.

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