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🏈 Good morning to everyone but especially ...


Exactly one player on the Lions' active roster -- long snapper Jake McQuaide -- was alive for the franchise's last playoff win before Sunday. Head coach Dan Campbell, the singular, unstoppable force who has become the heart and soul of not just the team but of Detroit as a whole, was 15. The NFC North was still called the NFC Central division.

It's a new day, and it's a damn good one in The Motor City. The Lions jumped ahead early and held on late, beating the Rams, 24-23, for their first postseason win since the 1991 season. They had lost nine straight postseason games in the time since.

  • The battle of quarterbacks facing their former team did not disappoint. Matthew Stafford was magnificent with 367 yards and a pair of scores, with record-setting rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua (181 yards, one touchdown) leading the way. But it was Jared Goff (277 yards, one touchdown) who made the game-sealing first-down throw to Amon-Ra St. Brown (110 yards) to win it.
  • The story of the game was the red zone -- The Lions got there three times and scored three touchdowns (on their first three drives, no less). The Rams also got there three times ... but scored zero touchdowns.

The quintessential moment to me is the Lions facing second-and-9 with two minutes remaining and the Rams having one timeout. So many teams would just run the ball there (and maybe again on third down). Instead, the Lions decided to erase all doubt, with Goff dropping back and finding St. Brown. These Lions -- the league's most aggressive team -- don't wait for things to come to them. They go and get it. As a result, they got their first playoff win in over three decades. Party on, Detroit.

Here are the weekend's other winners:

👍 Honorable mentions

😬 And not such a good morning for ...

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They can lead the NFL in points. They can boast a great defense. They can rack up eye-popping blowout wins.

Until they do it in the playoffs, though, these are the same old Cowboys, who have now gone an NFL-record 13 straight postseason appearances without even making the conference championship.

Unless you win the Super Bowl, every season's end is some mix of disappointing, frustrating and heartbreaking. For the Cowboys, you can add embarrassing and all-too-familiar, too.

  • The offense's final numbers look decent because of two garbage-time touchdowns. Before that, though, it had 16 points, two Dak Prescott interceptions and a general look of discomfort from early on.
  • The defense, so dominant all season, was atrocious. The Packers scored a touchdown on six of their first seven drives, with wide-open receivers running all over a discombobulated secondary. When receivers weren't open, they still made plays. The run defense got gashed. The pass rush was silent; Jordan Love was not sacked.
  • The first half was a historic disaster on both sides, the defense never stopped the bleeding, and the offense was too little, too late.

Bryan DeArdo ranks this as the Cowboys' worst playoff loss since their last Super Bowl triumph (which I wasn't even alive for). Jerry Jones seemed to agree, and I concur. The Cowboys were 8-0 at home this season and trailed for a total of 44:36 across those eight games. They trailed for 52:08 on Sunday, alone.

I don't know what the solution is. Is it firing Mike McCarthy? Is it replacing him with Bill Belichick? This is a good team with a good roster. Winning 36 games over the last three seasons is no fluke. Only the Chiefs have more wins. Finding answers in the NFL is never easy. In Dallas, the search continues.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

  • Maxx Crosby will reportedly request a trade if the Raiders don't hire Antonio Pierce. He also said the team "f---ed it all up" by hiring Josh McDaniels over previous popular interim coach Rich Bisaccia.
  • Desmond Bane (sprained ankle) is out six weeks as the Grizzlies' injury woes continue.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown got ejected.
  • Xavi apologized after Real Madrid crushed Barcelona, 4-1.

🏈 Steelers-Bills moved to today, previewing Eagles-Buccaneers

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If you expected to see Steelers-Bills yesterday, you were disappointed. Then again, the only things you would have seen at Highmark Stadium were a lot of snow -- like, A LOT of snow -- and some very brave people shoveling it.

Steelers-Bills will be played today -- or at least hopefully be played today, per Jonathan Jones -- after a massive blizzard made its way through Buffalo. This game has already caused plenty of headaches and will cause more when scheduling the divisional round. For now, though, let's hope it gets played today.

Eagles-Buccaneers was always scheduled for today, and what a strange route it's been. The Buccaneers were expected to take a step back without Tom Brady but won more games with Baker Mayfield (on a one-year, prove-it deal) leading the way. The Eagles, meanwhile, entered as a Super Bowl favorite, but with a leaky defense and disjointed offense, they've lost five of six and look vulnerable.

Here's all of our preview content:

🏈 Washington hires Jedd Fisch after Kalen DeBoer leaves for Alabama

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Nick Saban's retirement started a fast-spinning coaching carousel, and the Pac-12 -- err, the soon-to-be-former Pac-12 -- is being taken for a ride. Kalen DeBoer, fresh off leading Washington to a CFP championship game, took the Alabama job on Friday, and the Huskies found his replacement Sunday in former Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch.

DeBoer's hiring -- and his career path -- aren't conventional, but he's a great fit because he just wins, writes Shehan Jeyarajah. He's also expected to bring along offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, and Will Backus says Jalen Milroe should benefit greatly in the new system.

Oh yeah, it also helps that Saban himself endorsed DeBoer, and Saban will stick around to help the incoming coach. There's an inherent risk when replacing a legend, writes Dennis Dodd, but someone has to do it, and I like the DeBoer choice. As Tom Fornelli tweeted (like he does for many hires): "Kalen DeBoer is a great hire for Alabama. I have no idea if it will work out."

He tweeted the same thing about Fisch, who led Arizona to a 10-3 record in 2023. They went 1-11 in 2021, his first year with the program. Barrett Sallee gave the hire a B+ in our coaching tracker.

📺 What we're watching Monday

🏀 Rockets at 76ers, 1 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 Spurs at Hawks, 3:30 p.m. on TNT
🏈 Steelers at Bills, 4:30 p.m. on CBS
🏀 Warriors at Grizzlies, 6 p.m. on TNT
🏈 Eagles at Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. on ABC/ESPN
🏀 Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV