The Detroit Lions came into Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams with a lot of confidence despite their 0-4 record. The Lions had opportunities to win three of the first four games, but did not finished the drill. This time, they wanted to make sure there was no doubt as they easily beat the Rams 44-6. The win was the most lopsided victory since the Lions beat the then expansion Jacksonville Jaguars 44-0 behind Barry Sanders and Herman Moore.
The Rams started the game with an onside kick that Detroit recovered. That move by St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo fired up the Lions and the sell-out crowd. In hindsight, that was probably not a good move with a team desperate for a win. One of the stars of the game was KR Stefan Logan who returned a kickoff for 105 yards. The Lions have struggled on special teams the last couple of years and have not had a KR/PR threat since Eddie Drummond. Logan was picked off the waiver wire by the Lions right before the start of the season.
The other real star of the game was QB Shaun Hill. Hill has gotten more and more comfortable with Detroit’s offense since coming over from the 49ers in an offseason trade. Hill threw for 227 yards, 3 TDs, and had a QB rating of 117.6. His counterpart, Sam Bradford, looked like a rookie QB as he was 23 for 45 with 2 interceptions and a QB rating of 46.1. Hill spread the ball around as he threw his 3 touchdown passes to 3 different receivers: Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Nate Burleson.
The Lions defense has not given up a touchdown in the last six quarters. Rookie sensation DT Ndamukong Suh got his first interception as he batted a ball up in the air from Bradford and then caught it. Suh this season now has an interception to go along with his 3 sacks – not bad for a rookie defense tackle. CB Alphonso Smith intercepted another Bradford pass and returned it for a touchdown. The defense was solid and by far played it’s best game of the season.
The only negative thing that came out of the game is the possible shoulder injury to Calvin Johnson. Johnson caught a short pass from Hill early in the fourth quarter, but landed awkwardly. Johnson had a good game with 4 catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
For once, the Lions organization is going in the right direction. Yes, the Lions did beat the Rams who are rebuilding as well despite winning two games already. But it’s the moves Lions GM Martin Mayhem has made coming into this season (Logan, Hill, Suh, Alphonso Smith) and continues to make. It’s the coaching that looks like as a whole, the team is on the same page for the first time in years – both on offense and defense. Even special teams, one of the strengths of this organization for many years under legendary coach Frank Ganz, have turned things around and are now making plays (recovered onside kick, 105 yard kickoff return)
The Lions still have a 23 game road losing streak that will probably be extended when they play the Giants next week. With the talent on this team though, that streak should come to an end sometime soon. This team cannot be taken lightly anymore — just ask any of the teams that have already played them.
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Written by Bob Ballard