DENVER — Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 38-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, and looks at players who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at Empower Field:
RB Craig Reynolds: Reynolds had a strong preseason but languished on the practice squad the first 13 weeks of the season. Pressed into action with D’Andre Swift nursing a shoulder injury and Jamaal Williams (COVID) and Jermar Jefferson (flu) sick, Reynolds ran for 83 yards on 11 carries. The young running back had an impressive 35-yard run to spark the Lions early, and did enough to think he’ll be on the 53-man roster soon.
S Will Harris: Harris has caught plenty of grief for his play over the years, but he was one of the few bright spots on the Lions defense Sunday. Playing slot cornerback for the fourth straight game, Harris made nine tackles, broke up one pass and was partially responsible for the Lions’ only sack of the game, a coverage sack, in the first half. On a tough day for the defense, he stood out for the right reasons.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: A fourth-round pick out of USC, St. Brown makes this list for the second straight week. He led the Lions with eight catches for 73 yards and was their only real threat in the pass game with Swift and T.J. Hockenson out with injuries. St. Brown isn’t a big-play receiver, and he ran an indecisive route on one third down incompletion. But as his rookie season winds down, St. Brown is looking more and more like the Lions’ slot receiver of the future.
RB Godwin Igwebuike: Igwebuike had a killer fumble early in the third quarter, which set Denver up for a big second half, and nearly lost a second fumble in the fourth quarter. He had played well in a bit role in recent weeks and was averaging 11.6 yards a carry (on eight rushing attempts) coming into the game. But given the chance for more work, the converted safety did not appear up to the task Sunday.
C Ryan McCollum: The Lions have played consistently well up front most of the season, but McCollum had a rough day in his first career start. He allowed a sack on the opening series, drew a holding penalty that negated a third down conversion and was beat for pressures a handful of other times. Evan Brown, who has filled in at center most of the season for the injured Frank Ragnow, should be back in the lineup next week.
The Lions run defense: There’s enough blame in the Lions’ poor defensive showing Sunday to be shared by the entire defense. Michael Brockers, Levi Onwuzurike and the rest of the defensive line got pushed around. Jessie Lemonier missed tackles. Derrick Barnes couldn’t get off blocks. The Lions allowed 184 yards on 39 carries Sunday, and have now given up 184 or more yards on the ground four times this season.