‘That Was the Difference’ — Dan Campbell States Red-Zone Defense Was the Deciding Factor in Playoff Victory

Detroit's defense is picking up at just the right time, putting together stops when they needed it most, standing pat in the red zone.

The Detroit Lions have shown incredible tenacity and grit this season, characteristics that are exemplified by their head coach. Dan Campbell has lit a fire underneath this youthful team and coordinators Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn have done a fantastic job of carrying that through.

While the offense receives frequent attention and praise from the national media — and rightfully so — the defense has shown up in a big way and has played a big part in the Lions’ success up to this point.

Detroit Limiting Los Angeles’ Red-Zone Production Was Key to Victory

All the way back to his introductory press conference as the head coach of the Lions, Campbell has preached aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. He’s showcased that on offense on numerous occasions with gutsy fourth-down decisions and refusing to give the ball back easily to the opponent.

However, in the Wild Card Round matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, the tenacity of the defense played a critical factor in the Lions moving on to the Divisional Round.

“We wanted to be disruptive today, and we were going to be aggressive,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t perfect, but at the end of the day, we knew that we had to limit points [and] keep them out of the end zone. We did that.”

The Rams were able to make it into the red zone three times in Sunday night’s showdown, but Detroit’s defense — with plenty of help from the Detroit crowd — was able to stand tall and eliminate touchdowns.

Los Angeles had a chance to find pay dirt late in the first quarter, but QB Matthew Stafford just missed connecting with WR Cooper Kupp on a shot to the left side of the end zone. That ultimately proved to be a key play in this matchup as the Rams were forced to settle for three points versus the presumed seven that would have come as a result.

As we know, Detroit only won by one point. Three trips to the red zone, three stops. The Lions’ defense is showing up at the right time, and they seem poised to make a deep run this postseason with the way both units are operating currently.

MORE: NFL Playoff Bracket

With the winner of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game being forced to come to Detroit now as a result of the Dallas Cowboys’ sputtering, they’ll not only have to deal with a red-hot offense and a fiery defense … the crowd is ready to play a massive factor, too.

Want to predict the results of the 2023 NFL postseason with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? How about looking into in-depth breakdowns of team depth charts or the NFL playoff schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with all that and more!

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