LIONS INSIDER

FOUR DOWNS: O-line dominance, Pettigrew and Durham step up, Bush's TD run and Suh

Posted Sep 29, 2013

Tim Twentyman takes a look at four key pieces of the Lions' 40-32 win over the Chicago Bears at Ford Field

FIRST DOWN

O-LINE DOMINANCE

Running back Reggie Bush had one message to his offensive line after Sunday’s, 40-32, victory over Chicago.

"Kudos to those guys, man," he said after the game. "Offensive line did a tremendous job today. We talked all week about them controlling the line of scrimmage and that was going to be key to our success on offense."

With three new starters on the line, there were some question marks with the unit heading into the season. But after another stellar performance, which makes four in a row upfront, those concerns can be put to bed.

"They’re an underrated group," head coach Jim Schwartz said. "They’re not underrated to us, but it was a big worry (in training camp). I just took questions about how everybody is fretting about our offense line. I think our offensive line has done a pretty good job so far.

"I think overall those guys, have not only protected the quarterback well, they have blocked the run well."

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked just once in the game, and that was more of a coverage sack at the end of the first half than anything else.

The Lions rushed for 159 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

"I really didn’t get touched a whole lot until I got to the secondary," Bush said. "They played their hearts (out), they played well and they were the key factor why we were successful on offense."

The Lions owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which is why they now own first place in the NFC North.

SECOND DOWN

PETTIGREW, OTHERS STEP UP

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew will be the first one to say that his performance in the first three games of the season simply weren’t good enough.

The fifth-year tight end had just five catches for 38 yards coming into the game, and went without a catch in last week’s victory over Washington.

But with receivers Nate Burleson and Patrick Edwards out of the lineup due to injury, the Lions needed Pettigrew and other weapons in the passing game to step up.

"That guy, he works his tail off," Stafford said of Pettigrew, who caught all seven passes thrown his way Sunday.

"He’s been a guy that, since I’ve been here, has been a security blanket for me. A guy that has been, a lot of times, five yards from me right in front of my face and I’ve put some throws on him."

Pettigrew finished with seven catches for 54 yards. That’s not exactly blazing the stat sheet, but he was a weapon across the middle of the field and helped put the Lions in manageable down-and-distance all game.

"That guy is tough," Stafford said. "He’s blocking his butt off. I’m glad we could repay him with some passes today."

Receiver Kris Durham also did his part.

The third-year pro out of Georgia had three catches for 58 yards, including catches of 22 and 24 yards in a three-play span in the third quarter that led to a David Akers 43-yard field goal and a Lions 40-16 lead.

Durham also had both onside kick recoveries for the Lions in the fourth quarter.

THIRD DOWN

BUSH TD RUN

Once in awhile an offensive coordinator and a quarterback see something in a defense that gets lodged in the back of their minds until it’s the perfect time to strike.

Reggie Bush’s 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was one of those moments.

"It was a play that, honestly, we have been working in practice all week knowing they were going to blitz us," Stafford said.

Instead of getting out of the play, Stafford ran the run right into the blitz.

"Dom (Raiola) made a great call upfront. Pettigrew had a great block. We sealed off the back end and then Reggie did the rest."

The Lions exploited the aggressive nature of the Bears front seven and a little bit of improvisation by Bush helped complete the play.

After getting by the first wave of defenders, Bush hurdled Bears safety Major Wright on his way to the end zone.

FOURTH DOWN

SUH CONTINUES TO ROLL (OVER BLOCKERS)

Is there any interior lineman in the NFL who can block Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, because no one has proved they can through the first four games of this season.

Suh is probably playing the best football of his career and his play Sunday had a direct impact on a Lions victory.

Suh had four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and caused a Jay Cutler fumble that was returned for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. He made a number of other plays that don’t show up in the stat book that affected other players making plays.

"That play was a called play between myself and Willie (Young) and Willie just came in and pretty much wiped out the whole side and I played off of him and bent the corner and saw Jay holding the ball thanks to our secondary," Suh said of the sack-strip on Cutler.

"Just made a play on the ball and made sure I wanted to get it out and then I just see Nick scoop and score and that’s kind of the end of it."

It’s way too early to start thinking about postseason awards, but if Suh continues to play at this kind of dominant pace, there has to be some consideration for Defensive Player of the Year.