The Detroit Lions were the talk of the offseason as a team many predicted to take a step forward during the 2023 campaign. Those people have quickly been proven right, as the Lions picked up a huge victory in the season opener on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Lions traveled to Arrowhead for Thursday Night Football as the defending champion Chiefs kicked off the 2023 season. It was a raucous environment but one that didn’t overwhelm the Lions, as they looked poised throughout the game.
Detroit took full advantage of the Chiefs being without stars tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones. None of the other pass catchers on Kansas City’s offense was able to step up, while the Lions moved the ball efficiently offensively without the dominating presence of Jones in the middle.
There were certainly a lot of people surprised at the outcome of the game. But, Lions head coach Dan Campbell was not one of them. He has been preparing his team to start 1-0 for months, the first time that has happened in Detroit since 2017.
“I didn’t learn anything, I got verification on what I already knew, and this is a resilient team,” Campbell said. “It already was a resilient team and we added pieces to that resilient team, so we’re built to handle some stuff and we did that today against a very good opponent.”
There were certainly some moments in the game in which it looked like the Lions had squandered their opportunities. A fumble by Marvin Jones inside the Chiefs’ 10-yard line cost Detroit at least three points and regaining the lead.
Kansas City scored a touchdown with only 34 seconds remaining before halftime and was getting the ball to begin the second half. The Lions forced a punt on the first drive and then took advantage of Kadarius Toney’s drop, turning that into a pick-six to tie the game at 14.
Two field goals were all the Chiefs were able to muster against the Lions in the second half. With 7:06 remaining in the game, David Montgomery plunged into the endzone for an eight-yard touchdown, which gave Detroit a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“We expected to win this game. We came in here and we knew what we needed to do, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy and we did that,” Campbell said. “Really what it means is that’s one [win]. That’s one. So, we’ve got to clean up our issues. It hurt us on some stuff today and be ready for Seattle in 10 days. That’s what it is.”
Expectations were already higher than normal for the Lions entering the 2023 season. They are about to get higher and the bandwagon is going to start filling up after they knocked off the defending champions on opening night in front of a national audience.