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Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell dedicates first win to Oxford school shooting victims

The Detroit Lions finally picked up their first win of the year on Sunday as they honored the victims of last week's Oxford school shooting in Michigan.

DETROIT — The shoe was finally on the other foot for the Detroit Lions on Sunday. 

After they had lost numerous games this season on last-second scores, it was Detroit that had the last-second miracle on Sunday, defeating the Minnesota Vikings on a touchdown pass from Jared Goff to rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown as time expired.

The win ended a 15-game winless streak for the Lions dating back to last season and nearly an entire calendar year.

The Lions honored the Oxford High School community at Sunday's game, after a mass shooting at the school on Nov. 30 killed four students and left six students and a teacher wounded. Oxford is less than an hour from downtown Detroit.

It was the first victory for Dan Campbell as a full-time head coach in the NFL. After the game in his press conference, he dedicated the win and the game ball to the Oxford community, listing the victims by name. 

The four students killed in the shooting have been identified as Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and, Justin Shilling, 17.

"I just wanted them to know exactly what we were going to represent today," Campbell said of his message to the team before the game. "The shirts, the hats, the decals, the people that are affected. Some of our players know of someone that was affected. To me, my thought was, 'Hey, man, if we can, for three hours, just ease their suffering a little bit, that's worth it.' So, that's kind of how I thought of this and we did a great job, players responded and played well."

Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of fatally shooting four classmates and wounding seven others at Oxford High School. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter over Tuesday's shooting. The parents did not appear for arraignment on Friday, which led to a manhunt before they were apprehended Saturday.

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The first win of the season for the Lions came as they honored and dedicated the game to the Oxford community. On Saturday night, the Michigan Wolverines also dedicated their game, the Big Ten Championship, to the Oxford community. They wore "42" decals on their jerseys for Tate Myre, a football player at Oxford whose life was taken as he tried to stop the school shooting. Michigan scored 42 points in that game.

Lions and Vikings players wore Oxford "O" decals on their helmets.

Credit: AP
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) has an Oxford decal on his helmet, honoring the students killed at the high school this week, during pregame of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Detroit.(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff also spoke about the tragedy at Oxford after the game. Goff earned his first win as the quarterback of the Lions as he led a 75-yard drive down the field to get the last-second touchdown.

"You never hope for a tragedy like this, but you hope to be a light for those people and a positive thing that they can have fun watching," Goff said in his press conference. "I hope they were all watching today and were able to enjoy that win and we can take their minds off it for whatever it may be, three hours. I think any time that we can do that, it's a lot bigger than our sport, it's a lot bigger than us and I think today was one of those special circumstances that we were able to rise to the occasion and make something special happen."

"The Lions deserved to win this game, you heard me, the Lions deserved to win. They outplayed Minnesota, they out-gained Minnesota, they made better decisions in the first half," Matt Dery, host of the Locked On Lions podcast said on Sunday's postgame show. "They dedicated the game ball afterward to the Oxford community and high school for everything that's gone on this week, the inexplicably tragedy that went on up there. From that standpoint it was a nice bow to the day."

Inexperience for the Detroit Lions has been a theme all season. They have the youngest roster in the NFL and just four players over the age of 30 on the roster. Meanwhile Campbell is a first-time head coach with an inexperienced staff as well.

"Those kids on this team, and there's a lot of young kids on this team, they deserved to celebrate, they deserved to be excited, they deserved to storm the field like they did," Dery said on Locked On Lions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Check out Dery's full thoughts on the Lions win and how things need to change moving forward on the Locked On Lions podcast

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