GREEN BAY, Wis. — As happy as Dan Campbell was leading the Detroit Lions to their first winning season since 2017, the sophomore head coach was even happier to finish the narrative of the Same Old Lions.
On the prime-time stage at Lambeau Field, the Underdog Lions ended the regular season on an emotional high with a 20-16 win over the Green Bay Packers – dashed their hopes of reaching the postseason.
Now that the Lions have rebounded from a 1-6 start to finish 9-8 and gain respect, Campbell is embracing another moniker: Brand New Lions.
The next step in the rebuild is reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“Look, I certainly don’t want to hear that anymore, the Same Old Lions. That’s what this is about,” Campbell said after Sunday night’s win. “There are so many things and everything comes with winning but yes I wanted to be part of building a brand new brand.
“So, I like that and that’s the point, but I also know if you’re going to do that, you have to really get into the dance, you have to get into the tournament and then you have to make some waves in the tournament, so is that’s the next step,” he continued. “We’ve improved every year. We improved last year. That was a special group, even though we only won three games and we kept a lot of these guys and you know what? We’ve had nine wins this season. And we were 5-1 in the division and we got better and next year we’ll be better. But next year is about us getting into the dance and seeing what we can do when we get there.
When Detroit entered Lambeau Field on Sunday, there was little chance Detroit would make the playoffs. They needed the Seattle Seahawks to lose, and they also needed to beat the Packers to earn seventh place in the NFC.
But even when Lions players found out during pregame warm-ups that they would be left out in the playoffs after Seattle beat the Los Angeles Rams in overtime, Campbell said they were “unfazed.”
“We knew what we came here for and we wanted to gain respect and show what we’re capable of no matter what,” Campbell said. “And we knew the only way to do that was to win. And so our boys were locked in. They weren’t affected because we knew what the goal was.”
Lions quarterback Jared Goff earned his first win in three career starts at Lambeau Field and completed a lap of honor by smacking the hands of Detroit fans inside the stadium after the game. So did Lions sophomore receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught six passes for 49 yards.
At the start of Sunday, Detroit was down just 3-27 against Green Bay, losing its last three visits. From 1992 to 2014, the Lions lost 23 straight games to the Packers.
Running back Jamaal Williams, who surpassed Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ record for most touchdowns in a season in franchise history (17), hopes the organization will be viewed differently now.
“I don’t care, but at the same time you have to stop disrespecting us like that,” said Williams, a former Packers running back. “I don’t watch TV, really, but[Dan Campbell]was the one who showed all the clips of people the Packers pulled over us because it’s (like) a playoff game. Everyone voted for the Packers because nobody trusted us.”
St. Brown also didn’t mince his words when he said, “We want that respect from everyone,” as he was one of the last to leave the visitors’ dressing room.
Like Campbell, he believes that beating the Packers and ending the season with a winning record will change the Same Old Lions’ narrative. They are both motivated to help Lions continue to improve.
“You can keep doubting us. Everyone has the right to do what they want. But as a team we have to keep winning, we have to show people we can win these games,” St. Brown told ESPN. “The more you win, the more respect you get, the more respect you get and at some point you can’t say it’s the same old lions as you keep winning. We have to take care of our business, which I think we can do here, but I’m already looking forward to next year.”
#Detroit #ends #Lions #narrative #win #Packers