The Detroit Lions weren’t playing for much on Sunday afternoon. They were a couple of weeks removed from locking up the NFC North for the first time since 1993, and had nothing but minor seeding on the line in their Week 18 game against the Vikings. Instead of choosing the route of resting their staters in preparation for the postseason, Dan Campbell and company decided to play their starters at full strength against Minnesota, a decision they may end up regretting.
Lions Lose LaPorta, Carted Off With Knee Injury
Sam LaPorta –
May have just suffered a significant ligament injury as his left knee buckles and hyperextends.
Concern for ACL and/or LCL.
If he’s ruled out quickly, assume the worst. Really hope I’m wrong on this one, as it would impact his 2024 production. pic.twitter.com/NkbklssrTH
— Jeff Mueller, PT, DPT (@jmthrivept) January 7, 2024
During the first half, tight end Sam LaPorta became the single-season yards leader for a rookie tight end, and joined some elite company with his touchdown by becoming the third rookie tight end to reach a double-digit score total.
But the celebration of his feats didn’t last long. Just before halftime, LaPorta went down on the turf with an apparent knee injury after his leg bent awkwardly as he was being tackled. He limped off of the field and into the blue medical tent, all the while fans in Detroit held their collective breath.
Things obviously didn’t progress well, as the medical cart was then dispatched onto the sidelines and carried LaPorta back into the locker room for further inspection and treatment.
LaPorta’s Potential Absence Would Be Tough For Detroit
Sam LaPorta just grabbed his knee after a very unnatural looking bend on the turf. Oh lord.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 7, 2024
Losing their excellent rookie tight end for any extended period would be a tough blow for the Lions. LaPorta was the second-leading receiver on the team during the 2023 season, behind only Amon-Ra St. Brown, and took the lead in team touchdowns when he scored in the first half against the Vikings.
The team’s backup tight end is Brock Wright, who has 13 catches on the season for 91 yards and a touchdown.
It is, and always was, very likely that the Lions would finish the day (and the season) as the third seed in the NFC. Who they’ll play during wild card weekend has yet to be decided, but they’ll face a tough path to the Super Bowl if they are able to come out victorious in their first playoff game. The San Francisco 49ers will enter the postseason as the team to beat, and the Lions will almost certainly have to go through them at some point if they hope to achieve their ultimate goal.