DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions waited until Week 13 of Dan Campbell's debut season to win last year.
Desperate to avoid another slow start, Jared Goff threw two of his four touchdown passes to Amon-Ra St. Brown to help Detroit beat the Washington Commanders 36-27 Sunday.
“That was a good win for us," Campbell said. “We needed that. That was No. 1.”
The No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, Aidan Hutchinson, had three sacks in the first half to help the Lions (1-1) lead 22-0 at halftime. Will Harris had an interception in the second half to stunt the Commanders (1-1) as they tried to rally.
“They were getting a little momentum and to get that, it reset us a little bit and gave us a chance to breathe," Campbell said. “It proved to be a big play."
Washington made adjustments to give Carson Wentz more time in the second half. Wentz took advantage, pulling his team within seven points in the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel, a 20-yard pass to Logan Thomas and 2-point conversion to rookie Jahan Dotson.
“I was very proud of the way we responded in the second half, but the first half was horrible,” Wentz said. “This league is too hard to be that inconsistent.”
Detroit restored its cushion when Goff converted a third down by barely getting a pass off under pressure to D'Andre Swift, who slipped to the turf before regaining his footing and cutting across the field for a 22-yard touchdown.
Washington went for it on fourth-and-1 from its 26 on the ensuing possession and Terry McLaurin made the gamble pay off with 7 yards on an end-around. The speedy receiver converted a third down later in the drive with a 17-yard catch that helped set up Antonio Gibson's 1-yard run.
Commanders coach Ron Rivera went for a 2-point conversion and Wentz was picked off, allowing Detroit to keep an eight-point lead.
Goff threw an 11-yard touchdown to St. Brown on the ensuing drive, giving Detroit a 36-21 lead.
Wentz connected with Dotson for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:56 left and Joey Slye missed the extra point to the right, allowing the Lions to lead by nine and raising more questions about Rivera's decision to go for a 2-point conversion.
Slye's onside kick went about 5 yards, ending Washington's slim chance to come back against a team that was favored to win earlier in the week for the first time since late in the 2020 season.
“When you get some chunk plays and put yourself into scoring position, you can get something rolling," Rivera said. “We did that in the second half, but if we had done it in the second quarter, it might have changed the whole game.”
In a matchup of the top two picks from the 2016 draft, Goff outplayed Wentz.
Detroit's quarterback was 20 of 34 for 256 yards with four touchdowns, a week after helping Detroit score 35 points in a three-point loss to Philadelphia.
“We are a good offense, but we can be a great offense — and one of the best in the league," Goff said.
Wentz completed 30 of 46 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, leading an offense that didn't have a first down until its sixth possession. He is the first quarterback, since at least 1950, to throw for 300-plus yards and at least three touchdown passes in his first two starts on a new team.
St. Brown had nine receptions for 116 yards with two touchdowns. He's the first player in league history to have six straight games with at least eight catches and a score.
“He’s a pit bull that plays receiver,” Campbell said.
The second-year pro tied an NFL record with eight-plus catches in eight consecutive games.
“I don't think too much about records," St. Brown said.
Hutchinson joined Julius Peppers (2002) and Chip Banks (1982) as top-10 selections to have three sacks within the first two games of their career. The 22-year-old Hutchinson is the fourth-youngest player with a three-sack game, slightly older than Vernon Maxwell, Nick Bosa and Greg Townsend when they pulled off the feat.
St. Brown went 58 yards on an end-around, and had a 49-yard catch. For the second straight week, Swift had a 50-yard run.
“I thought the biggest problem was their explosive plays," Rivera said. “If you look at their scoring drives, I think they had a 25-yard play on all of them.”
Commanders: Center Chase Roullier injured his lower right leg during the game. … Starting safety Kam Curl and starting guard Wes Schweitzer were inactive with injuries.
Lions: Starting offensive linemen Jonah Jackson and Frank Ragnow were inactive with injuries, as was the team's top cornerback, Amani Oruwariye.
Commanders: Host Philadelphia on Sunday, with Wentz facing the team with which he played his first five seasons.
Lions: Play at Minnesota on Sunday.