FOXBORO, Mass. — Matthew Judon made a game-changing play for the Patriots defense in Sunday’s shutout win over the Detroit Lions. Just don’t tell Dan Campbell that.
Judon, coming off a sack where he set a new Patriots franchise record, strip-sacked Jared Goff just before halftime, allowing safety Kyle Dugger to scoop the ball up and score to extend New England’s lead to 13-0.
That sequence happened on fourth-and-9 after Detroit had marched the ball down to the Patriots 32-yard line. The Lions opted to go for it instead of kicking a field goal, resulting in a 10-point swing with less than four minutes remaining in the half. Some might call that a game-wrecking sequence for Detroit.
Not Campbell, though.
“Judon is a good player. We knew that coming in here. We did chip a significant amount to his side, but I didn’t necessarily feel like he wrecked the game,” Campbell said postgame. “When things don’t go well in your protection there’s a number of reasons. It’s all encompassing, between the protection, between the backs and the quarterback. He’s a good player, (but) I don’t feel like he wore our tackles out or anything like that. But certainly, he’s a good player. We knew that coming in.”
Now it’s easy to see where the coach is coming from. The Patriots thoroughly outplayed the Lions in all phases of the game, so pointing at one play as the deciding factor wouldn’t be wise. But, if there was one moment to point toward in deciding how the game changed, it was that one.
Judon finished with two sacks, four QB hits and a tackle for loss Sunday, outpacing any other player on both sides in sacks and QB hits. Perhaps when he goes back to look at the tape, Campbell will agree that the Patriots linebacker did in fact have a game-wrecking performance.