Jared Goff throws two TD passes, Lions top Bucs to advance to NFC Championship

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 05:57:47-05

The Detroit Lions are headed to the NFC Championship for the second time in the team's history, after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 on Sunday evening.

Detroit is now just one win away from the Super Bowl and will face the division-best San Francisco 49ers on the road next Sunday.

The Lions got off to a slow start with a 3-and-out, however, a tipped pass from Baker Mayfield to Mike Evans was tipped and intercepted by C.J. Gardner-Johnson at midfield.

Detroit drove 37 yards on eight plays but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Michael Badgley.

The Lion's defense did a good job holding Tampa's offense thanks to a big sack from Brian Branch, and Tampa kicked a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at 3.

On the ensuing drive, Detroit's offense got started and they drove 75 yards on 14 plays in nearly seven minutes. Jared Goff completed nine passes, including two big ones to Sam LaPorta, on the drive. It ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Josh Reynolds.

Both teams traded punts, and then Tampa Bay missed a 50-yard field goal that hit the upright and the game stayed at 10-3 Detroit.

It was a bad end to the first half for the Lions. After a first down was called back on review, Goff was sacked on third and one, which also hurt center Frank Ragnow.

After a great punt from Jack Fox, Tampa Bay took over at their own 8-yard line. The Buccaneers drove 92 yards on just seven plays in 1:13 to get a touchdown and tie the game at 10. Mayfield hit Evans on back-to-back passes for a total of 56 yards on the drive.

The game stayed 10-10 going into the half.

Detroit's defense came out strong to start the half holding Tampa Bay to just six plays, including a big sack from Aidan Hutchinson on third down that took the Bucs out of field goal range.

The Lions offense couldn't take advantage though, and a 25-yard pass that would've been a first down was called back on a chop block by David Montgomery, forcing the Lions to punt.

Both teams traded punts, and the Lions took over midway through the third. Detroit drove 64 yards down the field behind a 29-yard pass to Brock Wright.

After failing to get in from the 5-yard line, Detroit went for it on fourth down from the 1-yard line and Craig Reynolds ran it up the middle and into the endzone for a touchdown. Detroit took a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.

Mayfield and the Buccaneers drove down the field on their ensuing drive that saw two penalties on the Lions and some big passes by Mayfield. It appeared the Lions sacked Mayfield but the call on the field was an incomplete pass and the Lions didn't challenge the play. On the next play, Mayfield found Rachaad White for a 12-yard touchdown and the game was tied 17-17 at the end of the third.

After a slow first half, the offenses started picking up steam and the Lions drove 75 yards on just five plays and less than two minutes. It was capped off by a 31-yard touchdown run from Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs had 57 yards of total offense on the drive and Detroit took a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Lions forced a 3-and-out and then took over from their 11-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.

Detroit proceeded to drive 89 yards down the field on 10 plays and two huge catches by Amon-Ra St. Brown, including a 9-yard touchdown catch, put Detroit up 31-17 with just over 6 minutes left in the game.

Tampa Bay moved quickly though and went 75 yards in nine plays that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to Evans. A failed two-point conversion gave the Lions a 31-23 lead with just over 4 minutes left in the game.

Despite a penalty, the Tampa Bay defense was able to stop the Lions, and an incomplete pass on third down stopped the clock with just over 2 minutes left. Tampa Bay took over from their own 10-yard line with 1:59 left in the game.

Derrick Barnes intercepted Mayfield's pass with 1:33 left in the game and the Lions were able to run out the clock and win the game.