Ain’t no party like Aidan Hutchinson’s sack party for Detroit Lions in win over Washington

Detroit Free Press

Free Press sports writer Carlos Monarrez tackles the tough questions after the Detroit Lions‘ Week 2 36-27 victory over the Washington Commanders on Sunday at Ford Field.

Is that the best first half of football you’ve seen the Lions play?

Yes! Wait, yes? Yes! I think. As I get older — and I seem to age a lot faster during Sundays at Ford Field — the memory banks are harder to access, but I would say it’s the best half I can remember since 2006. Everything the Lions did seemed to turn to gold in the first half, when they outscored Washington, 22-0. And it’s not even like Jared Goff was close to perfect. One great example is when the Lions failed to score on fourth-and-goal from the 3 late in the first quarter. Two plays later, the defense came up with a safety for a 5-0 lead. Goff threw two touchdown passes and D’Andre Swift had a 50-yard run in a half that resembled Michigan playing UConn rather than an NFL contest. The Ford Field intensity during the victory matched the Lions’ execution — two aspects that have been absent far too long.

HAUL OF FAME:Amon-Ra St. Brown sets Lions touchdown record in first half vs. Commanders

ROOKIE BREAKOUT:Aidan Hutchinson gets three sacks in first half vs. Commanders

How about that second half?

Let’s be honest. The Lions’ first-half pace — outgaining Washington, 250-56 — was going to be unsustainable. And some of that was due to the Commanders looking completely confused and, I thought, even unmotivated at times. Washington came out of halftime like a new team, probably after some emphatic locker-room encouragement by coach Ron Rivera, and scored on the first drive of the third quarter. But the Lions never folded. They gave up plays on defense and the offense punted on its first two possessions of the second half, but they played steadily and never let the Commanders get too close. Swift’s touchdown on a catch-and-run off a wobbly pass at his shoe tops put the Lions up, 29-15, at the end of the third quarter and served as a magnificent example of the team’s fortitude.

How good was Aidan Hutchinson?

Simply put, this was the rookie defensive end’s coming-out party. He was everything in the backfield, especially in the first half, when had three sacks. Some of Hutchinson’s sacks were results of Washington quarterback Carson Wentz running away from pressure and into him. But they were also a result of Hutchinson’s relentless motor. I’m not sure how often Hutchinson will repeat this performance or how often he will come clean off the edge or bull-rush an offensive lineman, but he knows how to work and keep after the quarterback in a way that will lead to success for himself — or the rest of the defensive line. I haven’t seen a rookie defender have so much fun (and validate this much hype) since 2010, Ndamukong Suh’s first year.

Contact Carlos Monarrez: cmonarrez@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter@cmonarrez.

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