5 candidates for Detroit Lions game ball vs. Vikings

Pride of Detroit

In Week 3, the Detroit Lions lost to the Minnesota Vikings 28-24. Throughout the game, coach Dan Campbell was faced with several tough decisions, and while his aggression paid off early, his risk-taking approach backfired in a series of questionable choices at the end of the game.

There will be a lot of nitpicking—and rightfully so—throughout the week, but it wasn’t all bad and there were some players who elevated their games. So with that in mind, here are the five most deserving candidates for Lions’ Week 3 game ball.

Jeff Okudah

Assignment: Shadow Justin Jefferson
Jefferson’s stat line: 3 receptions on 6 targets, 14 yards
Okudah stat line: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL but he finished the game with just three catches on six targets for only 14 yards. The Lions alternated between two coverage strategies on Jefferson: 1) bracket coverage with Okudah underneath and a safety over the top—which they used early and late—and 2) Okudah as a one-on-one shadow.

Okudah, and the Lions’ bracket strategy, took Jefferson away early, but instead of trying to feed the beast, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins seemed to simply look for other options, barely even testing the coverage. Once Cousins moved away, he rarely looked back Jefferson’s way.

Okudah seemed in lockstep with Jefferson all day. Now, the television coverage doesn’t always tell the entire story of how things break down in the secondary, but when the ball was thrown Jefferson’s way, and Okudah was in coverage, the ball—or Jefferson—typically ended up on the turf.

Josh Reynolds

Stat line: 6 receptions, 96 yards (career high) – 2 receptions on fourth down conversions

A career day for Reynolds, who stepped up when injuries impacted skill players like Amon-Ra St. Brown and D’Andre Swift. Reynolds’ connection with quarterback Jared Goff is—and has been—very evident and it was needed against the Vikings. When the Lions needed a big play, Reynolds was the player most likely to produce, including registering two receptions that converted fourth downs.

Reynolds was injured (low ankle) late in the game and that will be something to keep an eye on this week.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Stat line: 6 receptions, 73 yards – 1 reception on a fourth down conversion

Before being injured, St. Brown was his typical impactful self, dominating with the ball in his hands. When the Lions had a gotta-have-it fourth down early in the game, it was St. Brown who converted a reception and turned it into 30 yards, setting up a Jamaal Williams touchdown.

The Lions had to noticeably change their approach on offense with St. Brown limited, and unfortunately, his NFL record eight-game, eight-catch streak ended in Minnesota.

JuJu Hughes

Assignment: Stepped into a starting role when Tracy Walker exited with an injury
Stats: 8 tackles (career high)

When Tracy Walker exited with what appears to be a potentially problematic injury, the Lions turned to Hughes to pick up the slack. In Week 1, after Walker’s ejection, Hughes was immediately picked on by the Eagles but that was not the case against the Vikings. Hughes looked sharp in coverage, was part of the bracketing team on Jefferson, and make quick tackles when a player entered his area.

Hughes could be a potentially important piece moving forward if Walker’s injury is long-term, as neither Kerby Joseph nor Ifeatu Melifonwu appear to be ready to challenge.

Jamaal Williams

Stat line: 20 carries, 87 yards, 4.4 yards per attempt average, 2 rushing touchdowns, 2 receptions, 20 yards

While Williams doesn’t possess Swift’s game-breaking potential, he was steady and churned out yards for the offense, producing over 100 all-purpose yards. This was the second game this season (and his career) that he has scored more than one touchdown in a game.

Alright, now it’s your turn to vote. Who deserves this week’s game ball?

Poll

Who deserves the Lions Week 3 game ball?

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    Jeff Okudah

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    Josh Reynolds

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    Amon-Ra St. Brown

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    JuJu Hughes

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    Jamaal Williams

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