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DETROIT – As he stared from the sidelines of Ford Field, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell rested his hands on his knees as he leaned back slightly in anticipation of the final game of the game.
When quarterback Jared Goff found rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown on a walk-off touchdown pass to a 29-27 upset victory over the Minnesota Vikings that gave the Lions their first win of the season, Campbell shouted and jumped into the air with joy as Goff hurried over to him to get a big hug.
After experiencing the emotional climax of victory for the first time this season, Campbell did not lose sight of the bigger picture.
“This game ball goes to the entire Oxford community and all those affected,” Campbell said, referring to the shooting Tuesday at nearby Oxford High School that left four teenagers dead and several others injured. “And that being said, man, I just … I wish we did not forget these names: Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Tate Myre, Phoebe Arthur, Jon Asciutto, Riley Franz, Elijah Mueller , Kylie Ossege, Aiden Watson and Molly Darnell, who are teachers.
“These are the names of all those who will never be forgotten, and they are in our hearts and in our prayers.”
Even without the dynamic running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder), the Lions played inspired football on the heels of the shooting. The school is located just over 30 miles outside of Detroit. The Lions honored the victims with a moment of silence prior to kickoff, while also wearing T-shirts, hats and helmet stickers as a tribute.
“Like for me, I just … my thought was, ‘Hey man, if we can just ease their suffering a little bit for three hours, it’s worth it. It’s worth it,'” Campbell said. “And that’s kind of how I thought about it, and we just did a great job. Players, they replied, played well.”
The team held a meeting on Saturday to review the full details of the Oxford High shooting to make sure it knew the extent of what it was playing for. With some guys so stuck in football, Campbell and his staff wanted to inform them specifically about what was going on by showing them videos and media reports about the horrific scene. A 15-year-old student is accused of killing four of his classmates and is being charged as an adult. His parents were also charged with negligent manslaughter.
The lions said they were trying to gather around the story.
“You never hope for a tragedy like this, but you hope to be a light to these people and a positive thing that they can have fun seeing today,” Goff said, fighting back tears while wearing an Oxford -hat. “I hope they all watched today and were able to enjoy that victory and we can take our minds off it, whatever it may be, three hours. I think anytime we can do it, it’s much bigger than our sport, it’s much bigger than us.I think today is one of those special circumstances where we were able to lift the event and make something special happen . “
Lions fans could also experience something special on Sunday: a victory for the first time in over a calendar year. Detroit will no longer have to question a season without a win after celebrating its first win of the regular season since December 6, 2020. It also marked the Lions’ first home win since November 15, 2020.
At the break, the Lions had their biggest lead of the season after going up 20-6 and finishing a series of 10 games in a row where they were kept under 20 points. Goff controlled the offense and went 25-for-41 with 296 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Without Swift, Jamaal Williams went up with 17 carries for 71 rushing yards and St. Louis. Brown caught 10 passes for 86 receiving yards.
Detroit (1-10-1) also suffered an eight-game losing streak against the Vikings, dating to 2017. This is the latest in a season (the Lions’ 12th game) since 1970, in which a team won its first game in a decisive game. touchdown on the last adjustment game. The previous mark belonged to the Cleveland Browns from 1999, who were 0-7 before winning on a Tim Couch Hail Mary on Halloween against the New Orleans Saints, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
After scoring the battle-winning touchdown, St. Brown the scene as something he will never forget.
“Definitely, definitely. I mean, my first NFL touchdown, first NFL win, I’ll be remembering this day for a long time,” said St. Brown. “The way it happened, the way it unfolded was … I mean, it was just … it couldn’t be better.”