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Four Downs: Young and tight ends step up, D-line strength, third-down and red-zone, and Broyles

Posted 10 hours ago

First Down

Receiver Titus Young could sense all week how much both his coaches and teammates were expecting him to step up with the loss of Nate Burleson to broken leg at Chicago last week.

"There were a couple of guys here and there saying, ‘this is your opportunity to step up and make plays.' I just saw it in guys' eyes.

"I saw a lot of guys just looking at me throughout the week and just seeing how I was going to respond to our adversity and losing a great leader in Nate. I just took it upon myself to do the best I could to be there for my team this week."

Young gave them exactly what they were looking for with a nine-catch, 100-yard performance with two touchdowns. It was the first 100-yard performance of Young’s career.

It wasn’t just the two touchdowns, either. Young made a couple crucial catches on third down that kept the chains moving.

The Lions have been looking for Young to emerge as the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Calvin Johnson all year, even before the Burleson injury. Young was afforded an opportunity because of the injury and he stepped up to the plate.

He wasn’t the only one.

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler combined for 11 catches for 120 yards in the Lions' 28-24 victory.

On a day when Calvin Johnson had just three catches for 46 yards and held out of the end sone ... again.

The Lions got exactly what they needed from their supporting cast.

"I think it was definitely important getting out there and playing from an aspect of guys stepping up and playing with Nate (Burleson) out," Pettigrew said.

"The leadership role picked up as well. You know, guys stepped up because Nate was that kind of guy. He was the heart of this team. Guys stepped up. They led, played hard and that was important to this game."

Second Down

It might appear by first glance at the final stat book, the Lions defensive line took a step back against the Seahawks considering their two previous performances when they combined for eight sacks.

The unit didn’t record a single sack against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but they still affected the game.

The Lions had seven tackles for loss with three in particular being key to the win.

The first was a play by defensive tackle Corey Williams on Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch the first defensive series of the game.

The three-yard loss forced a 2nd-and-long and an eventual punt. The Lions lined up offside on the punt, which gave the Seahawks a first down, and also allowed defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch to record another key tackle-for-loss later in the drive.

Vanden Bosch’s play came on a 2nd-and-4 play from the Lions seven-yard line.

Vanden Bosch got to Lynch three yards in the backfield and forced 3rd-and-7 back at the 10-yard line. The Seahawks completed a pass for five yards on third down and were forced to kick a field goal.

The third key tackle-for-loss by the defensive line came right before the half by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The Seahawks tried to run a draw with Robert Turbin with 12 seconds left on the Lions 43-yard line to set up a field goal, but Suh stuffed the play, forcing a 61-yard field goal attempt that ended up a few yards short and kept the Lions' deficit at 17-14 at the half.

Third Down

The Lions won Sunday because they were efficient on offense – especially on third down and in the red zone.

The Lions completed 12-of-16 third down attempts for an efficiency rate of 75-percent. It was the Lions' highest third-down completion rate in games with 10-plus attempts since they converted 10-of-12 third downs (83.3 pct) back on Nov. 28, 1996 vs. Kansas City.

The 12 third-down conversions are the most by the Lions in a game since at least 1991.

Heading into the game, the Lions were 26-of-78 for 33.3-percent efficiency.

In the red zone, the Lions were 3-for-3 on Sunday – all touchdowns.

They were one of the worst red zone teams in the league coming into the game having completed just 16-of-23 attempts with 11 touchdowns.

Fourth Down

With Burleson out, a majority of the slot receiver duties will fall on rookie second-round pick Ryan Broyles the rest of the way.

If the last two games are any indicator, the Lions should be just fine with Broyles manning the middle of the field.

After recording his first reception and touchdown at Chicago last week, Broyles’ encore performance consisted of another touchdown vs. the Seahawks and three catches for 37 yards.

"Ryan Broyles made some great catches," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said.

"The first one for a touchdown - unbelievable play, jumps up catches it, turns in the air and dives in. We have to have plays like that.

"That's the NFL. That's what helps you win. Guys are doing it all day. It's fun to be a part of it.”

Using a second-round pick on Broyles had some scratching their heads ... but it's already paying dividends.