The most challenging task for any new coach taking over a bad team is changing the culture and persuading the team it’s good.
That’s what Dan Campbell has done in Detroit. That leads our NFL Week 11 recap.
He’s turned a perennial loser into a winner with a combination of toughness and enthusiasm that’s infectious.
The Lions put each of those traits on display Sunday to rally from a 12-point deficit in the final three minutes to beat Chicago 31-26 and stretch its lead to two games in the NFC North.
Detroit has not been 8-2 since 1962 when the Beverly Hillbillies was the No.1 show on TV, and the Civil Rights Act hadn’t been passed yet. The Lions, who have won 16 of its last 20 games, have had only two seasons with double-digit wins since 2000 and just five since 1991.
“We got a chance to do something special,” coach Dan Campbell said.
The Lions trailed 26-14 with 4:15 left, partly because Jared Goff struggled. He threw three interceptions — the Lions committed four turnovers — and finished with 236 yards passing.
“Down two scores, that’s when he’s at his best,” Campbell said. “I think that speaks volumes.”
The Lions drove 75 yards in six plays to pull within 26-21 on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Williams. They forced a three-and-out before driving 73 yards in 11 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. David Montgomery’s one-yard touchdown and run and Jarod Geoff’s two-point pass to Sean LaPorta pushed the lead to 29-26 with 29 seconds left. A safety by Aiden Hutchison provided the final points.
“It was not my best ball for about 3 1/2 quarters,” Goff said. “We’re a resilient crew. We’re tough. We don’t back down.”
Here’s the rest of the NFL Week 11 recap:
Los Angeles Chargers’ meltdown has Brandon Staley on firing line
Another week, another difficult loss for the Los Angeles Chargers and coach Brandon Staley.
The Chargers lost their seventh consecutive game decided by three points or less.
Green Bay 23, Los Angeles 20.
“We need to change our mindset, and we need to go out there and execute,” safety Derwin James said. “We play hard, that’s why the game’s so close, but it comes down to execution, those one, two, three plays that we’re just missing. We need to go out as players and get it fixed.”
The Chargers blew a 20-16 lead in the last five minutes. A 24-yard touchdown run by Romeo Doubs gave the Packers a three-point lead with 2:33 left.
That was plenty of time for Justin Herbert to lead a game-winning drive — and it might have happened if first-round pick Quinton Johnston, who was wide open, hadn’t dropped a pass for at least 30 yards and, maybe, a touchdown with 23 seconds left in the game.
Johnston, taken with the 21st pick, has caught just 18 passes for 162 yards this season.
“I think we have to be able to complete some balls. I have to be able to complete some footballs there at the end and make the drives keep going,” Herbert said after the game.
“It’s not a lack of effort. These guys are giving their all. I feel for these guys, and it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation, but all we can do now is answer how we can deal with this and keep moving forward. I know that these guys are going to continue to show up and give their best effort. We’re awfully close. We just have to keep pushing, keep executing, and doing everything we can to learn from these mistakes and keep getting better.”
The 4-6 Chargers must quickly put a winning streak together to make the playoffs, or Staley may find himself unemployed.
The Chargers road won’t be any easier with star defensive end Joey Bosa, who was carted off the field in tears after suffering a foot injury.
C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young continue their ups and downs
Rookie quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young continue to head in opposite directions.
Stroud, the second player selected in the draft, passed for 336 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Still, he led the Texans to a 21-16 win over Arizona.
“Steph Curry don’t ever stop shooting, you know, I mean,” Stroud said after the game. “I don’t have no shame in my game. I’ve definitely got to be smarter, but no confidence is taken away from me, and I’m going to keep letting it fly.”
It marked the fifth time this season Stroud has passed for more than 300 yards. The three interceptions surpassed his total for the season.
While No. 2 pick Stroud puts up big numbers and his team competes for a playoff spot, the first player taken in the 2022 draft continues to struggle. Young completed 16 of 29 passes for 123 yards with a touchdown and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Dallas sacked him seven times.
Young has passed for fewer than 200 yards in five of his nine games.
“We want to execute at a high level,” Young said. “And that wasn’t what happened today. I take responsibility for that. That’s on me, first and foremost.”
Miami’s vice halts Las Vegas Raiders’ storybook start with Antonio Pierce
Miami ended Las Vegas’ feel-good story and its two-game winning streak.
The Raiders had won consecutive games since firing Josh McDaniels three weeks ago and hiring Antonio Pierce.
Miami won the way it always wins.
Tua Tagovailoa passed for 325 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. As expected, most of his passes were directed toward Tyreek Hill. He caught 10 of 11 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins gained 422 yards but were only 3-of-11 on third down and committed three turnovers. But Jalen Ramsey intercepted two passes to help the Dolphins win.
“I do feel great; I’ve put in a lot of hard work,” Ramsey said after the game. “At the same time, the only way to get ready for football and be really in football shape and feel like the guy that I am is to play more football, and this is only my third game. Techinically, I’m just now in my training camp, preseason, really.”
Another fill-in QB leads the way for Cleveland Browns
You have to give the Cleveland Browns credit for winning a game with their third different quarterback this season.
Deshaun Watson, who’s out for the season with a shoulder injury, has led the Browns to four wins. PJ Walker is responsible for two wins, and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick, won Sunday’s game.
He passed for only 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but he completed four straight passes to set up Dustin Hopkins’ 34-yard field goal with two seconds left that gave Cleveland a 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.
“He came through,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He made some big plays throughout that drive, made big plays throughout the game. I know it wasn’t perfect at all times, but he came through when it mattered.”
Pittsburgh managed just 249 yards and 12 first downs. Quarterback Kenny Pickett passed for only 106 yards.
Robert Saleh benches Zach Wilson, and it’s about time
Robert Saleh finally did what he had to do and benched Zach Wilson for the fourth quarter of their 32-6 loss to Buffalo.
Wilson completed 7 of 15 passes for 81 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Jets’ drives with Wilson seven drives went fumble, punt, punt, punt, interception, touchdown, punt, punt.
Tim Boyle replaced Wilson with 2:15 left in the third quarter. Boyle completed 7 of 14 passes for 33 yards and an interception.
The Jets finished with 155 total yards and went 0-for-11 on third down.
Saleh did not commit to either quarterback for next week’s game against Miami.
“We are going to watch the tape, and we’ll make a decision (Monday),” Saleh said after the game. “We’ll look at all of it. I’m not really answering those questions yet.”