Jared Goff leads Lions to first playoff win in 32 years

DETROIT (AP) — Jared Goff lifted his arms in the air, encouraging Ford Field fans to get even louder, before taking the final snap to end his long-suffering franchise’s skid in the playoffs.

The crowd delivered, approaching the decibel level of a siren.

Goff came through, too.

Goff threw for a touchdown and completed a pass for a victory-sealing first down against the team that cast him away, and the Detroit Lions won a playoff game for the first time in 32 years, beating Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams 24-23 on Sunday night.

The Lions (13-5) ended a nine-game postseason losing streak — the longest in NFL history — that dated to a victory over Dallas on Jan. 5, 1992. They lost a home playoff game two years later and hadn’t hosted one since.

“It means a whole lot to this city,” Goff said. “We knew what it meant when this season started to get into the playoffs and then to get this win. And, you know, it’s just the beginning for us. We’ve got some run left.”

Detroit, the NFC’s No. 3 seed, will have two home playoff games for the first time in franchise history, hosting either Tampa Bay or Philadelphia in the divisional round next Sunday. Second-seeded Dallas was routed by Green Bay.

The Rams (10-8) had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but Detroit’s defense denied them. A holding penalty pushed Los Angeles out of field goal range, and Stafford — the Lions’ longtime quarterback who won a Super Bowl after he was traded to the Rams — threw incomplete on fourth down.

On the first play after the two-minute warning, Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown for 11 yards, allowing the Lions to run out the clock — much to the delight of long-suffering fans who witnessed the franchise’s second postseason victory since winning the 1957 NFL title.

“That’s the best home atmosphere I’ve ever played in, and I expect next week will top that,” Goff said.

Against the franchise he once led to the Super Bowl, Goff was 22 of 27 for 277 yards and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Sam LaPorta that put Detroit ahead 21-10 midway through the second quarter.

The Lions acquired Goff and a pair of first-round picks for Stafford three years ago.

“Jared was really efficient. You could see the command that he has,” said Rams coach Sean McVay, whose relationship with Goff soured before the trade. “There’s a lot made of it, but I’m really happy for him. We wanted to come away with a win, but he’s done a great job.”

Stafford, who played most of the game with a bandaged and bloody hand after he slammed it into a defender’s helmet, finished 25 of 36 for 367 yards with two touchdowns.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else as our quarterback other than Matthew Stafford,” McVay said. “He was outstanding. He was gritty. He was gutsy and made tough throw after tough throw. The rush was barreling down on him, and he stood in there and was dropping dimes all day.”

Detroit drafted Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009 and while he put up gaudy statistics, he didn’t win a playoff game in his 12 seasons. Stafford hugged dozens of Detroit’s players and staff members after the game.

“I’m happy for the players,” he said. “I’m happy for those guys.”

Record-breaking rookie Puka Nacua had nine receptions for 181 yards and a touchdown for the Rams.

David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs each had a rushing TD for the Lions, and St. Brown had seven receptions for 110 yards.

After trailing by 11 points, the Rams got within 21-17 at halftime thanks to Stafford’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Nacua and his 38-yarder to Tutu Atwell.

Michael Badgley’s season-long, 54-yard field goal — the longest of his postseason career, and tied for the longest in Detroit’s playoff history — gave the Lions a seven-point lead midway through the third quarter.

The Rams moved the ball at will for much of the game, but had to settle for short field goals by Brett Maher to get within 24-23 with 8:10 remaining.

“The difference in the game was the red area,” McVay said.

Stafford has made a career of fourth-quarter comebacks, a fact the fans at Ford Field were well aware of. With a chance to put the Rams ahead for the first time, he led a drive to the Detroit 34, but the Lions’ defense forced him backwards from there.

Detroit took over with 4:07 to go, and Los Angeles had only one timeout left after calling two earlier in the half to cope with the crowd noise. That allowed Goff to take a knee after his throw to St. Brown.

The Lions started strong and looked as fired up as their long-suffering fans, with rapper and Motor City native Eminem in the house along with Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson.

“When we came out for pregame warmups, it was already buzzing,” Campbell said.

The fans showered Stafford with boos when he ran onto the field, where he posed for a pregame photo with his wife and their daughters, and chanted “Jar-ed Goff! Jar-ed Goff” for the Lions’ quarterback.

“Going into this game, I had two things I was playing for: I was playing for my teammates and I was playing for the city,” said Hutchinson, who grew up in suburban Detroit and starred at Michigan. “This city has been so deserving of this for so long, and we’re going to keep it up.”

INJURIES

Rams: Stafford’s right hand was taped up after it was cut in the second quarter and he walked off the field slowly after getting hit by two Lions late in the third. He said he hurt his ribs and head on the play. … RB Kyren Williams had a hand injury in the fourth quarter. … TE Tyler Higbee limped off the field, favoring his right leg, after taking a low hit in the fourth. … S Jordan Fuller, the team’s second-leading tackler, was ruled out after being listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

Lions: WR/KR Kalif Raymond, TE James Mitchell and CB Jerry Jacobs were inactive.

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