Even though things got close at the end, it was a very impressive victory for the Detroit Lions in Week 2. The Washington Commanders commanded nothing in the first half, mustering not a single point against the Lions defense. The Lions had some missed opportunities, but in the end, they capitalized on enough of them to pull through.
With a lot of gold stars to be awarded for a great all-around performance, what stood out the most?
In some weeks, our Game Ball polls are quite barren, either due to a defensive beatdown or an offensive implosion. Our Week 2 edition, however, features many great candidates. Amon-Ra St. Brown tallied two terrific touchdowns en route to another strong outing. D’Andre Swift continues his 2022 tear, racking up 87 total yards on just seven touches—with a stellar touchdown catch-and-run to boot. Jared Goff had a statistically impressive four touchdown game, and any game your touchdown-to-interception ratio is 4:0 is a good game. If you want to tug at some heartstrings, Dan Skipper made the most of his first career start, and we aren’t playing it up for emotions: he was genuinely outstanding. Aidan Hutchinson, meanwhile, not only recorded his first career sack, but his second and third ones as well. Even rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez is showing up when it matters.
Individual performances aside, there are addition aspects of the Lions’ victory to be impressed with.
Losing one starter along your offensive line can result in a sharp decrease in efficiency. Losing two starters often means a rough day at the office. Losing three starters, on the other hand? Good luck. Yet the Lions needed none of it, for the offensive line exceeded expectations. Sure, the bar was low for the trio of Dan Skipper, Evan Brown, and Logan Stenberg, but through one form or another, the three replacements made a positive mark against Washington.
Going even broader, the Lions have now posted back-to-back games with over 35 points—they reached that mark just once in 2021, and it came in the final week against a Green Bay Packers team that was, in hindsight, coasting their way to the playoffs. You can only imagine what the offense could be like with St. Brown, Swift, DJ Chark, T.J. Hockenson, and Jameson Williams all on the field at the same time. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was a key reason why the Lions had a late resurgence in 2021, and he has seemingly continued that trend this year.
The defense cannot be discounted either. Even though the Commanders themselves were struggling, the Lions defense was showing up as well. Allowing zero first downs until five minutes left in the second quarter is impressive against any NFL opponent. Hutchinson and Rodriguez were already mentioned, but the likes of Charles Harris, Alim McNeill, Isaiah Buggs, and Alex Anzalone deserve nods too for shoring up the front seven. With quarterback Carson Wentz under pressure early, it made life easy for the Amani Oruwariye-less secondary. Washington did creep their way back into the game, and Wentz finished with a sizable 337-yard, three-touchdown performance, but the signs were there that the Lions could have a not-horrible defense.
We shall try not to overreact to this victory, but it shows that the Lions are on the right trajectory with their rebuild. They aren’t treading water, they’re improving.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What was the most impressive part of the Lions’ Week 2 victory?
My answer: I think Amon-Ra St. Brown was the most impressive part of their victory.
The Lions’ rebound towards the second half of the 2021 season corresponded with a few changes, but none stand out as much as Amon-Ra St. Brown. After a quiet start to his career, St. Brown has been nothing short of spectacular for the Lions. The momentum from last year was not lost this offseason, and through two games, St. Brown has 180 receiving yards and three touchdowns, as well as a lengthy 58-yard run against Washington. Even with Jared Goff not at his best, St. Brown can make any play a dangerous one. St. Brown is quite literally making history:
Entering last season, the hope was that this fourth-round rookie could quickly work his way up the depth chart to provide some much-needed talent at wide receiver. A year and a bit later, and we’re suddenly talking about St. Brown being among the elite receivers in the league. Players like Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase have hit the ground running in their NFL careers, but they had the pedigree that St. Brown did not. I’d wager that even amongst the avid St. Brown draft supporters, nobody expected this level of play this quickly.
You always want to avoid crowning young players, for many things can go amiss over the course of a season and career. However, it truly looks like St. Brown is a special talent. That is what continues to impress me.