The Detroit Lions have done something incredibly rare this season: they’ve won their last two games by one point, and both involved coming back from double-digit fourth-quarter deficits.
The most recent comeback came in London against the Falcons. Detroit won, 22-21, on Oct. 26.
“It was actually great (playing in London),” Lions safety James Ihedigbo said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The fans, you’d be surprised. The fans out there love American football. The atmosphere in Wembley Stadium was amazing.”
Really? In Wembley? For American football?
“Yeah, it was intense,” Ihedigbo said. “When the tide turned, they just wanted someone to cheer for. When the Falcons were winning, they were cheering for them. And as we started coming back, they started to cheer for us.”
Detroit was down 21-0 at halftime but outscored the Falcons 22-0 thereafter. What changed?
“We played about as bad of a first half of football as we played all year,” Ihedigbo said. “Offensively, they picked it up and defensively we just weren’t playing to our standards. We got on the right course (quickly in the second half) and stepped up to it and played in dominant fashion defensively and finished offensively and got out of there with a win.”
The Lions opened the first half with an impressive 15-play, 76-yard drive that took 7:06 off the clock. Unfortunately, it culminated in a 22-yard field goal.
The Lions, however, remained undeterred. Golden Tate hauled in a 59-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter, Theo Riddick had a 5-yard touchdown reception in the fourth, and Matt Prater drilled two field goals – including a 48-yarder as time expired – to give Detroit the victory.
Ihedigbo credited head coach Jim Caldwell for keeping the Lions calm at halftime.
“He’s one of those guys who’s never too high or never too low,” Ihedigbo said. “He’s truly focused at all times. There was no yelling or rah-rah speeches. He just said, ‘We know what we’re capable of doing. Let’s play at our level.’ It was kind of conveyed across the board. And guys knew that we weren’t playing (well). We were down 21-0 and turned it around.”
The Lions have now won three straight and five of six. They rank fifth in the league in pass defense (216.4 yards per game), second in rush defense (74.0 yards) and first in scoring defense (15.8).
Detroit’s defense, in short, has been dominant.
“We have pretty high standards around here, and you see it on Sunday,” Ihedigbo said. “You see what our DNA is: fast, smart, physical football. We knew that we weren’t playing to that level early on in the game, but we definitely did in the second half. We just want to continue to build on that.”
Detroit hosts Miami (5-3) this Sunday before two pivotal road games at Arizona (7-1) and New England (7-2). Kickoff this weekend is slated for 1 p.m. ET.