They did it. They finally did it.
The Detroit Lions finally secured their first victory on the season with a walk-off 11-yard touchdown reception by rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown—the first of his career—securing a 29-27 win.
Before we break down the play, let’s set the table.
Up 23-21 with 4:08 remaining in the game, the Lions were faced with a fourth-down play at their own 28-yard line. The Lions got aggressive and decided to go for it. Unfortunately, Jared Goff was sacked and fumbled the ball, giving the Minnesota Vikings the ball in the red zone with a chance to gain the lead—which they achieved on a Justin Jefferson touchdown.
The Lions got the ball back with 1:50 remaining in the game down 27-23, needing a touchdown to win and 75 yards away from paydirt. Goff was methodical, taking the easy completions and moving the ball down the field. Eventually, the Lions made it into the red zone with just 13 seconds remaining. A quick pass to St. Brown set them up with third-and-2 with eight seconds remaining from the 11-yard line. An incomplete pass brought the game down to a final play.
Lions had the ball on the 11-yard line with four seconds remaining and one chance to secure the victory. Here’s how the play went down.
The Lions come out with three wide left, St. Brown on the perimeter, Kalif Raymond to his right, and T.J. Hockenson in the slot. Josh Reynolds was the lone receiver to the right side of the formation and Jamaal Williams was in the backfield.
The Vikings deployed and rushed just three defensive linemen, dropping five into coverage at the goal line, and a three safety umbrella coverage over the top.
Both Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell locked up their edge rushers, but the Vikings’ nose tackle was made his way through the A-gap between center Evan Brown and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Despite the pressure in his face, Goff hung tight in the pocket and stepped into his throw.
On the right side, the outside corner and safety double-teamed Reynolds and locked him up in the end zone.
Both Hockenson and Raymond ran to the middle of the end zone drawing the attention of the three defensive backs on the goal line and the safety in the center of the end zone.
That left an outside corner and an over-the-top safety for St. Brown to deal with.
Like on the opposite side with Reynolds, the outside corner played the boundary and the safety had inside responsibilities. But, unlike the defenders on the opposite side, the safety was further off his coverage of St. Brown, and the rookie ran a shallower route, creating a throwing window for Goff.
Goff, who recognized the off coverage from the safety, had already begun his throw when St. Brown was at the 3-yard line. By the time the rookie crosses the goal line, he immediately settled in his route, turned to locate the ball, and it was in his hands before the Vikings’ defensive backs could close.
Touchdown. Ballgame. Victory.
Here’s the play in video form:
St. Brown explains the final play: