That’s exactly what the Lions were in Jacksonville: dominant.
They were balanced on offense, attacking on defense, and they’re going home with a 4-4 record following a 31-14 victory. It’s the kind of performance they’re hoping is a springboard for the rest of their season.
"We started 1-3. And then we were faced with three of four on the road in the next four games," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "We got two of three on the road and won our home game to be able to get back to .500.
"We did it in a lot of different ways today. The defense came out and shut them out in the first half. Shut them out … didn’t even allow them a first down until I think midway through the second quarter. And then offense, particularly the run game, really sealed the game for us. Those guys did a great job there."
The numbers do a pretty good job of telling the story in this one.
- The Lions churned up 434 total yards of offense.
- They were 8-of-12 on third down, making them 20 of their last 28 on third down over the last two games.
- The Jaguars were limited to 279 total yards and just 64 rushing.
- The Lions scored four rushing touchdowns, the first time they’ve done that since 2005.
"Well, disappointing - obviously the outcome - we were outplayed in all phases.," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "You can look at the statistics to prove that."
More importantly than the numbers, though, the Lions got back to .500 and finished the second quarter of their season 3-1 after starting 1-3. It’s now an eight-game season for the Lions with the meat of the schedule remaining.
"Guys - offense, defense and special teams showed up like we needed them to and played a complete game, which is something we’ve been looking for," Lions quarterback
"We still have a lot to prove. We have to go put two more quarters of the season together like this last quarter.
"You do that, you play as good of football as you can possibly play, but we have to take it one week at a time and we understand that. We have to enjoy this one, but put it behind us and be ready to move on."
The three scores allowed the Lions to jump out to a 21-0 lead at the half. It’s the first time the Lions led at the midway point this season. He became the first Lions rusher with three touchdowns on the ground since James Stewart did it against the Buccaneers in 2000.
It’s been a pretty good week for Leshoure. He had his first child, a son, four days ago, and finished with 70 yards to go along with those three scores.
In total, the Lions had 149 yards on the ground.
"We feel like we can run any game," Leshoure said. "But, yes, specifically this defense, we’ve seen some air in there and we took advantage of it. They’re an aggressive defense at times and, like I said, our O-line came out with an attitude and it showed - we proved it."
Stafford was 22-of-33 for 285 yards. During the second drive of the game, Stafford completed a 28-yard pass to tight end
It took him 37 games to reach the mark, which is the second fastest in history (Kurt Warner, 36 games). He’s also the fourth youngest to reach the mark – only Drew Bledsoe, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning were younger.
"Our future is obviously bright with Matt Stafford, whether it’s a game like this where he’s handing it off a lot or he’s got to go and play with a lead or a game where he has to catch us up," Schwartz said. "He’s able to do anything on the football field."
Stafford’s favorite target on the afternoon was receiver
"I didn't feel good at all," he admitted after the game. "It was hurting. It took awhile for it to get a little loosened up. It took a couple of pain meds, but we got it going, though."
Did he ever.
Johnson caught seven passes for 129 yards. It marked the 25th 100-yard receiving game of Johnson’s career, making him just the second receiver in Lions history to reach 25 (Herman Moore, 34).
The Lions have climbed their way out of the hole they dug themselves in to begin the season, but sometimes the most difficult part is getting over the hump and back into the black.
That can start next week in Minnesota.