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NFL playoffs: What We Learned from Lions' win over Rams on Super Wild Card Weekend

1) Lions find a way to grind out a historic win. This one was 32 years in the making for Detroit, a city filled with fans yearning for a legitimate result to cheer for. They received it Sunday night, but not without some tense moments. The Lions jumped out to an early lead, firing on all cylinders offensively and putting 21 points on the board by the midpoint of the second quarter. But eventually, the chess match that is playoff football set in. The Lions scored just three points in the second half and needed every single one of them, breathing a sigh of relief when embattled kicker Mike Badgley drilled a 54-yarder to put their lead to 24-17. Aaron Glenn's defense finished the job from there, limiting the Rams to two short field goals after Los Angeles twice advanced deep into Detroit's red zone. And in classic Lions fashion, coach Dan Campbell's aggression showed in the way they closed out the game, dialing up a second-and-9 pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to secure the final first down needed to run out the remaining clock. NBC cameras showed Lions fans crying in the stands in the final minute, joyful tears they've undoubtedly earned through decades of undying loyalty. Campbell's bunch returned the favor Sunday.

2) Matthew Stafford, Rams fall in valiant effort. Los Angeles entered a hostile environment Sunday in Detroit, where Ford Field was packed with 66,367 fans ready to let out 32 years' worth of frustration. Sean McVay, Stafford and Co. were undeterred by the boos, recovering from a few early blows dealt by the Lions to storm back, making it a 21-17 game with 4:02 left in the first half. Stafford was excellent all evening, completing 25 of 36 passes for 367 yards and shaking off a handful of brutal hits to stay on the field and keep the Rams in the game. They ultimately fell short, failing to convert two great scoring chances in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't without great effort. Puka Nacua continued his historic season, setting a rookie record for the most receiving yards in a playoff game (181) and scoring a touchdown. Los Angeles outgained Detroit by nearly 100 yards and battled to make it close all the way to the end, where the final score accurately reflected this contest. It just didn't end with the Rams on top.

3) Jared Goff exorcises a demon. Goff spoke during the week about how the Rams' decision to trade him to Detroit in unceremonious fashion left a permanent chip on his shoulder. On Sunday night, he earned perhaps the most satisfying win of his career, leading the Lions to an early 14-3 lead and three touchdowns on three straight drives, landing a couple of haymakers on his former employer. It wasn't a four-quarter fireworks show for Goff, who was kept out of the end zone in the second half, but he checked off just about every key goal for the game: throw for 250-plus yards, complete a touchdown pass (on fourth-and-goal, no less), avoid committing crushing mistakes (neither team turned it over) and keep the Lions on track. He did all of that, outlasting the Rams and instantly becoming a hero in Detroit as the franchise's first playoff-winning quarterback in over 30 years.

4) Sean McVay's decisions might haunt him. The Rams earned a wild-card berth in a season in which few expected much from them largely because McVay put together one of the best season-long coaching performances of his career. But McVay made a few peculiar choices in this game that might have ultimately cost the Rams a chance at victory. With just under a minute left in the first half and backed up deep in his own territory, McVay had three timeouts in his pocket and chose to run out the clock and head into halftime instead of attempting to add a few points to the Rams' total before the break. In the second half, McVay burned two timeouts -- one early in the third quarter and another early in the fourth -- leaving him with just one in the final four minutes. Trailing by one, McVay elected to punt with the understanding he'd need a quick three-and-out to regain possession with enough time to move into scoring position. When the Rams didn't get a stop, McVay was left helpless to watch the clock tick down to zero. Hindsight is 20/20, but a game with such a slim margin could have changed had McVay had those timeouts available, bringing a disappointing end to such a positive year.

5) Dan Campbell earns another validating feather for his cap. When Campbell was introduced as the Lions' next coach a few years ago and started talking about biting kneecaps, he became a punchline. When his Lions struggled early in his tenure, it seemed as if he might not be long for Detroit. But let Sunday night be a lesson for those without patience. It remains a virtue, and it can produce incredible reward. Campbell's Lions got here not on sheer talent alone, but by embracing his focus on shifting the franchise's culture from that of an also-ran to a tough, scrappy team that has since transformed into a contender. It's just one playoff win, but it's a significant one. Now, their next test will be even more important. One playoff win is nice, but it cannot be enough; not for a franchise that has already come so far in a relatively short amount of time.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jared Goff enjoyed the comfort of quality pass protection Sunday night, completing all 21 passes attempted when not under pressure for 266 yards and a touchdown, the second-most non-pressured passes without an incompletion in a game since 2018.

NFL Research: In a true battle of sharp passers, Jared Goff (121.8) and Matthew Stafford (120.9) had the second- and third-highest passer ratings, respectively, in the playoffs versus a team that a player played for previously. Only the Eagles' Rodney Peete's 143.3 passer rating in the 1995 wild-card game against Detroit was higher.

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