Lions hold off Jets, keep playoff hopes alive

Detroit News

East Rutherford, N.J. — For the second time this season, a coaching decision to attempt a long field goal in the fourth quarter nearly cost the Detroit Lions a game, and in this case, potentially a playoff spot.

But with time running out in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jared Goff found Brock Wright open in space on a fourth-and-one throw and the tight end was able to rumble 51 yards for the game-winning score as the Lions topped the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, 20-17.

The final wasn’t secure until Greg Zuerlein missed a 58-yard field goal as time expired.

BOX SCORE: Lions 20, Jets 17

Prior to Wright’s heroics, the Lions had opted to attempt a 54-yard field goal midway through the final quarter, as opposed to pinning a struggling New York Jets offense deep in their own territory with a punt. But, Michael Badgley’s kick came up short, and the Jets capitalized with a drive ending with a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson to C.J. Uzomah.

The victory moves the Lions to 7-7 on the season and, barring a tie, will have them a half-game behind the loser of Sunday night’s game between the New York Giants and Washington Commanders for the final spot in the NFC with three games remaining.

As many anticipated, points were difficult to come by for the Lions and Jets on Sunday, at least until the closing minutes of the game.

he Lions actually had an opportunity to grab an early lead, taking the opening kickoff and driving deep into Jets territory. Running the ball three straight times after earning a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line, the Lions opted to go for it on fourth down, needing less than a yard, but running back Jamaal Williams was stuffed behind the line, turning the ball over to the Jets.

Unable to do anything in the shadow of their own end zone, New York was forced to punt after going three-and-out. And after nearly breaking one last week against the Minnesota Vikings, return man Kalif Raymond made the first man miss and found a seam, bringing the boot back 47 yards for a touchdown to put the Lions up seven following the PAT.

The two sides traded punts the remainder of the opening quarter before the Jets tied the game early in the second frame. Rolling out of the pocket on back-to-back snaps, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson connected with rookie receiver Garrett Wilson on a 33-yard pass, one play before hooking up with tight end Uzomah for a 40-yard touchdown.

Uzomah, running a vertical route from the left slot, juked Lions safety Kerby Joseph before breaking open toward the right sideline where Wilson found him for the long score.

Detroit managed to regain the lead on the ensuing possession, putting together a lengthy 15-play drive. The offense appeared to have a touchdown when Williams broke through the line for an 11-yard touchdown, but a holding call against guard Evan Brown negated the run.

Brown got flagged for a second hold two snaps later, leaving the Lions to settle for a 31-yard Michael Badgley field goal.

That 10-7 score looked like it would hold heading into the half, but Wilson connected on consecutive passes to backup receiver Jeff Smith for 66 yards, including a 50-yard bomb, which beat the coverage of cornerback Jeff Okudah. That allowed the Jets to tie it with aback up with a 34-yard Zuerlein field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

Looking to grab their first lead of the day coming out of the break, Wilson made an awful decision, throwing a ball that was easily intercepted by Lions cornerback Jerry Jacobs, who returned it 38 yards down the sideline to the Jets 15-yard line.

But the Lions weren’t able to take full advantage of the takeaway, losing a yard on three snaps before turning to Badgley for a 34-yard kick that put them back on top, 13-10.

That score remained the same through the remainder of the third quarter as neither team could move the ball, combining for 27 yards of offense on four possessions.

The Jets opened the fourth quarter going three-and-out for the third time, but managed to pin the Lions at their own 9-yard line with the punt. Behind a balanced attack, Detroit’s offense clawed out of the hole before another holding penalty, this time against center Frank Ragnow, caused the drive to stall.

Instead of playing it safe with a punt, the Lions opted for a 54-yard field goal attempt for Badgley, which came up short, giving the Jets possession at their own 44.

Capitalizing on the favorable field position, Zach Wilson heaved a jump ball down the right sideline to Garrett Wilson, who went up over cornerback Will Harris for a 33-yard reception into field-goal range. But the Jets wouldn’t settle for three this series.

After a quarterback sneak was stuffed on second down, Uzomah hauled in a 1-yard touchdown reception out of play-action to put the Jets on top, 17-13, with 4:45 remaining.

But the Lions found an answer. Facing fourth-and-one, Goff flicked the ball to Wright, coming across the formation. The tight end did the rest, rumbling down the sideline for a 51-yard touchdown to put the Lions back ahead, 20-17, with just under two minutes remaining.

Now .500 on the season for the first time since Week 2, the Lions will head back on the road to face the Carolina Panthers next Saturday.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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