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Lions' Jared Goff: TE Sam LaPorta, RB Jahmyr Gibbs are 'two of the best rookies I've ever been around'

Any worries in Detroit were remedied by a 42-point display from the Lions offense in Week 15.

Jared Goff and Co. were simply dominant in Saturday night's win over the Denver Broncos, producing 448 total yards of offense with a healthy dispersion of run and pass plays that resulted in touchdown drives in five of the last six possessions to match the Lions' season high point total in 2023.

It was the type of showing needed from a unit that was turnover prone over the course of the past month and struggled to the tune of a 2-2 record. While Goff answered by tying a career-high five TD passes, it was the performances of rookies tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs that stole the show in Detroit, combining for five TDs on the night.

"They're two of the best rookies I've ever been around," Goff told reporters after the game. "What they handle mentally and what they do every Sunday for us; the way they practice, they way they're pros, everything -- they're as good as it gets."

Three of LaPorta's five receptions (56 yards) ended in TD celebrations while Gibbs found paydirt on the ground and through the air. LaPorta and Gibbs' five combined TDs are the most by rookies in a game since Bills wide receiver Jerry Butler and defensive tackle Fred Smerlas did it in 1979, per NFL Research.

The rookie duo is an essential element to Detroit's well-rounded offense, with LaPorta continuing to be a sure-handed red-zone threat and Gibbs blossoming as a change-of-pace playmaker out of the backfield.

Not only are they tone setters for the Lions, but Gibbs and LaPorta are changing the tone of those who questioned Detroit's first- and second-round picks back in April's draft.

"I'm just going to bring it back to (general manager) Brad Holmes," head coach Dan Campbell said after the win. "It's a hell of a job by him, once again. He took a lot of criticism for those two picks, but they look like they're OK. So, I'm glad we got them."

Gibbs had a career night rushing the football, producing 100 yards off 11 carries for an efficient 9.1 YPC. His explosiveness turning the corner and decisiveness when utilizing blocks seemingly improves each week and every week. Paired with David Montgomery, the Lions own one of the best one-two punches out of the backfield.

LaPorta is entering rare territory following his three-TD showing, and the Iowa product is continuing the tradition of flourishing Hawkeye TEs in the NFL. On Saturday he became the third rookie tight end with 700-plus receiving yards and seven-plus receiving touchdowns in his first season, joining Hall of Famers John Mackey (1963) and Mike Ditka (1961), according to NFL Research.

Detroit tightened its grip on the NFC North with Saturday's victory and enter Sunday with several scenarios that could help them clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2016. But going beyond that and clinching the division will be paramount for the Lions, who haven't accomplished such a feat since 1993 -- the last time the Motor City saw a playoff win.

If you ask LaPorta, all the ongoing success is much more than the Lions striking gold with their first two draft picks in April.

"It starts with our head coach," LaPorta said on NFL Network after the game. "Dan Campbell set a standard around here that, you know, what's happened for the last 30 years isn't gonna fly around here anymore. It's an attitude thing. It's a mental thing. Starts with him."

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