EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Asked about the surging play of rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson this week, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell spoke Hutchinson’s heroics Sunday into existence.
“He wants to be a difference-maker,” Campbell said. “Like, he views himself as somebody like, ‘I can change the game. Like I can do that.’ And so I think when you get in those critical moments, those high-pressure situations, he’s somebody that thrives in that, like he enjoys that.”
Hutchinson came up with a key play at a critical time Sunday, intercepting a Daniel Jones pass with 6:09 left in the second quarter to help break open a three-point game and spark the Lions’ best performance of the Campbell era, a thorough 31-18 butt-whipping of the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Jamaal Williams ran for three touchdowns, the defense held NFL rushing leader Saquon Barkley to 22 yards on 15 carries, and extended their win streak to three games heading into next week’s Thanksgiving showdown with the Buffalo Bills.
The Lions have won three straight for the first time since November of 2017, when they beat the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears in consecutive weeks, and have back-to-back road wins for the first time since 2020.
After starting the season 1-6, the Lions (4-6) have crept back into the NFC playoff race with a mix of creative, ball-control offense and an opportunistic defense.
Hutchinson’s pick came when he faked a pass rush and dropped into coverage from his right defensive end position, and it was one of two interceptions the Lions had against Jones. Rookie Kerby Joseph intercepted his third pass of the season in the third quarter.
Jones, who threw only two interceptions in the Giants’ first nine games (seven wins), had not thrown a pick in 145 straight pass attempts entering Sunday, a streak that dated to the Giants’ Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Lions trailed 6-3 midway through the second quarter when Hutchinson’s second interception of the season gave them life.
Williams scored his first touchdown four plays later on a 4-yard run, and the Lions went ahead 17-6 on their next possession when Williams capped a seven-play, 68-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
Jared Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown for a 30-yard pass on the second play of that series, and the Lions overcame a first-and-20 on their way to the end zone.
Williams scored his third touchdown on another 1-yard run on the opening drive of the second half. He has two or more touchdowns in five of the Lions’ 10 games this season and an NFL-best 12 on the year.
And D’Andre Swift capped the scoring for the Lions on a 4-yard run with 6:10 left that came four plays after Hutchinson recovered an Isaiah Hodgins fumble.
The Lions have outscored opponents, 77-57, during their three-game win streak and have forced seven turnovers, after forcing six in their first seven games.
Jones completed 27 of 44 passes for 341 yards and threw a late 9-yard touchdown pass to Richie James.
Goff was 17 of 26 passing for 165 yards for the Lions, who outrushed the Giants, 160 yards to 89 yards. Williams finished with 64 yards on 17 carries and Justin Jackson added 66 yards on nine carries.
And the day was even better for the Lions because the Los Angeles Rams lost a fourth straight game, dropping a 27-20 affair at the lowly New Orleans Saints, and now sit fifth from-the-bottom of the standings. The Lions own LA’s first-round draft pick in 2023 from the Matthew Stafford trade.
The Lions face the Super Bowl favorite Bills on Thursday. The Bills (7-3) rallied past Cleveland, 31-23, on Sunday at Ford Field, after the game was moved to Detroit due to heavy snow in Buffalo. The Bills were expected to fly home Sunday, then return Wednesday.