The Lions won 31-23 at Ford Field to secure a game against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship for their first appearance at this stage of the playoffs in 31 seasons.

First Quarter

The first quarter of action was rather quiet for both sides of the field. Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an early interception which the Lions were able to capitalise on. Michael Badgley converted a 23-yard field goal to give the Lions an early lead.

The Bucs could only answer with a field goal of their own to wrap up the first quarter of action, as their kicker Chase McLaughlin hit from 43 yards to tie the game 3-3.

Second Quarter

The Lions could not be held on their opening drive of quarter two, as good play from quarterback Jared Goff saw the Lions into the red zone where they got their first touchdown of the game.

Goff found his receiver Josh Reynolds in the endzone for a nine-yard touchdown. A much better drive after having to settle for a field goal in the first quarter.

<strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/20/1169389-detroitlions-vs-tampa-bay-buccaneers-game-preview.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/20/1169389-detroitlions-vs-tampa-bay-buccaneers-game-preview.html'>Jared Goff</a></strong> #16 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/15/1168763-detroit-lions-24-23-la-rams-lions-roar-to-first-playoff-in-32-years.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2024/01/15/1168763-detroit-lions-24-23-la-rams-lions-roar-to-first-playoff-in-32-years.html'>Ford Field</a></strong> on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The Bucs did not respond straight away. Mayfield tried to lead his side down the field with some nice passes including a 23-yard dime to receiver Mike Evans. However, the Lions defence stood strong.

The Bucs had a chance to cut the lead to four points as McLaughlin faced a difficult 50-yard field goal attempt, however, the kick was no good and the Lions were able to maintain their one-score lead.

The Bucs finally were able to level the game with just 19 seconds left in the first half. Two brilliant 27 and 29-yard passes from Mayfield to Evans saw the Bucs with a chance to score late on which they took.

A short two-yard throw from Mayfield found his tight end Cade Otton in the end zone which meant the game went into halftime with the score at 10-10.

Rachaad White #1 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a touchdown with <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2020/10/07/1040880-atlanta-falcons-mock-draft-10.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en-us/nfl/2020/10/07/1040880-atlanta-falcons-mock-draft-10.html'>Cade Otton</a></strong> #88 and Deven Thompkins #83 against the Detroit Lions during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Rachaad White #1 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a touchdown with Cade Otton #88 and Deven Thompkins #83 against the Detroit Lions during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Third Quarter

After the halftime interval, the game did not change its fashion with it remaining close yet again in the third quarter. Both defences showed exactly why they have received so much praise throughout the regular season as they were both able to limit each offensive unit.

It took nearly 13 minutes in the quarter for there to be a breakthrough and it finally came for the Lions. A great drive led by the excellence of Goff saw his team sit just one yard outside of the end zone.

A quick handoff from Goff to his backup running back Craig Reynolds saw him rush through the Buccaneers' defence with his only carry of the game to restore the Lions’ lead in the game.

Mayfield was not going to let the game get away without a fight however, a fantastic two-minute drill from the quarterback saw him throw a 12-yard touchdown to his running back Rachaad White which tied the game up going into to fourth and final quarter of the game.

Fourth Quarter

It was a make-or-break quarter for both sides. One mistake or missed chance and it would end the game.

Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs showed all the doubters early on in the fourth quarter why the Lions took him with the 12th pick of this season’s draft.

A rush on second down, 31 yards out from the end zone saw him break free down the middle of the field. He ran all the way to the five where he stiff-armed Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr to the floor to score a crucial touchdown. A moment of magic in Detroit.

Jahmyr Gibbs #26 of the Detroit Lions stiff arms Antoine Winfield Jr. #31 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL divisional round playoff football game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Jahmyr Gibbs #26 of the Detroit Lions stiff arms Antoine Winfield Jr. #31 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL divisional round playoff football game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

A quick turnover from the Lions' defence yet again saw the ball back in the hands of Jared Goff. A calm and collected drive down the field which took five minutes off the clock left the Lions with a great chance to score.

Goff found his receiver Amon Ra St. Brown for a nine-yard touchdown which saw the Lions two scores ahead and inches away from a moment they had been waiting for over three decades.

Mayfield, however, knows too well what it is like to lose a playoff game and he was not letting the Lions celebrate too early. A 16-yard throw to Evans left the Bucs just one touchdown away from levelling the game and they had just under four minutes to find it.

With two minutes left in the game, Mayfield had the ball deep in his own territory and would have to find a miracle to get up the field and score a touchdown.

He threw an audacious pass into coverage and a fantastic read from Lions linebacker Derrick Barnes saw him intercept the ball and with less than two minutes left in the game, the Lions secured the victory and won their first-ever Divisional Round game at Ford Field.

Derrick Barnes #55 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Derrick Barnes #55 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Lions' win is a historic moment for the franchise. A dream come true for every Lions fan, especially those who may have never seen the Lions even win a playoff game in their lifetime before this season.

Their win means that they will have to travel for the first time in their playoff campaign to play for a place in the Super Bowl. They travel to the iconic Levi’s Stadium to face the number one seed in the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers.

A win would send the Lions to their first-ever Super Bowl. If they do reach the big game, they will face the eventual AFC Champions in what could be the biggest game in the history of their franchise.

VAVEL Logo
About the author