The Lions knew that their playoff hopes were extinguished before their game kicked off in Green Bay on Sunday night, but they didn’t play like it.
After trailing 9-6 at halftime, the Lions drove for a pair of Jamaal Williams touchdown runs and rookie safety Kerby Joseph picked off Aaron Rodgers in the final minutes to allow the Lions to run out the clock on a 20-16 win. That result knocked Green Bay out of the playoffs and it allowed the Lions to finish the season on an 8-2 run after opening with a 1-6 record.
Head coach Dan Campbell said after the game that the team wasn’t lacking motivation despite the lack of playoff opportunities..
“I’m telling you, we were unfazed,” Campbell said, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “We knew what we were coming in here for, and it was to gain some respect and show what we’re capable of, no matter what happened. And we knew the only way to do that is to win.”
The Lions got that win and the stage is now set for another step forward during the 2023 season.
“We got nine wins this season, and we were 5-1 in the division,” Campbell said. “We got better. And next year? We’ll be better. But next year is about, man, let’s get in the dance and see what we can do when we get in there.”
That kind of growth isn’t guaranteed, but it wasn’t hard to find reasons on to think things will play out that way by the time Sunday night’s game was over.