O'Hara's Burning Questions: How did Reggie Bush's debut as a Lion measure up in Lions' history?

Posted Sep 8, 2013

Mike O'Hara looks at Reggie Bush's debut, penalties that hurt the Lions, pre-game roster moves and more in the Lions' 34-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings

Burning questions – how Reggie Bush’s debut as a Lion measures up in Lions history, penalties that hurt the Lions, the meaning of some pre-game roster moves, Glover Quin’s clinching interception and other issues in the Lions’ 34-24 victory over the Vikings in the opener at Ford Field on Sunday:

Reggie BushRB Reggie Bush (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

Q. Reggie, Billy, Barry: How did Bush’s debut compare to how Billy Sims and Barry Sanders broke in with the Lions?

A. The best answer is that what Bush did Sunday doesn’t have to be compared to what any other running back. He did enough for his performance to stand on its own merits and validate – for one game, at least – everything the Lions hoped he would give them when they signed him in March.

He caught the ball. He ran hard. He broke big plays. In short, he influenced the game. He made the plays of the game for the Lions’ offense. First he turned a short pass over the middle into a 77-yard catch and run for a TD that gave the Lions a 27-17 lead in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, when the Lions were driving to clinch the game, he got within two feet of the goal line on third and two with a six-yard run. That made it first and goal. Rookie Joseph Fauria caught a TD pass  on the next play to extend the lead to 10 points.

He went over the 100-yard mark as a receiver, and that’s probably the area where he’ll make his biggest impact throughout the year. But he ran hard to gain 90 yards on the ground. It was a good two-way effort.

Q. Comparisons: Was Bush’s debut as good as Barry’s and Billy’s?

A. It was different, because they broke in as rookies. Billy’s first game was on opening day against the Rams and on the road. He had 153 yards rushing and three TDs, and two catches for 64 yards. The Lions blew out the Rams in an upset, and Billy soon was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

In 1989, Sanders was a contract holdout and had only two days of practice  before playing in the opener at home against the Cardinals. He didn’t play in the first half, but went in in the second half and electrified the crowd with nine carries for 71 yards and a TD. The Lions lost that game, so it put a damper on his debut.

But that’s three backs, three Heisman Trophy winners, and three players who had the crowd chanting their name.

Let’s put away the history book and focus on the 2013 Lions.

Q. Winning: what did it mean?

A. It’s only one game in the standings, but it meant more than that to the Lions. They had every advantage in the game except one – the Vikings had Adrian Peterson. Playing at home against a division team, and favored to win gave the Lions the edge.

If they’d have blown it, and there were times when it looked like they would even though they were controlling the game, it would have been devastating. They didn’t blow it, though. They had a lot of penalties, but late in the game, it was the Vikings who took two terrible penalties, including roughing the passer on a third-down incompletion that led to the TD that extended the lead to 10 points.

Roster roulette: Joique Bell had a big game as Bush’s backup. What did it mean that Bell was active and Mikel Leshoure, the starter most of last year, was inactive?

A. It meant Bell had an opportunity to boost his own stock, and he did that. When you get a chance, you have to take advantage of it so it will lead to more playing time. The Lions have depth in the backfield now.

Q. Riley’s world: Riley Reiff started the second game of his career at left tackle. How did he hold up against Jared Allen, the Vikings’ star pass-rusher?

A. There was nothing glaring. Reiff kept Allen off Matthew Stafford. Allen batted down two passes, but he wasn’t a factor otherwise.

Q. Suh’s flag: The Lions looked like they triggered a yellow blizzard in the first half with all the penalty flags. They had seven penalties accepted against them. The one that hurt most was against Ndamukong Suh that wiped out DeAndre Levy’s TD return on an interception.

Suh was flagged for delivering a low block during the return. Right call? And was the block unnecessary?

A. On about the zillionth look at the replay, the block was low and from the side on the Vikings’ players left leg. It also looked like Suh might have had his head in front.

However, the NFL has put an emphasis on eliminating blocks against defenseless players, and also taking away dangerous blocks.

It did not fall into the category of a dirty play. As for unnecessary, taunting and finger-pointing and getting penalties for showboating are unnecessary.

Q. Louis Delmas: He got a taunting penalty late in the first half after a catch by Jerome Simpson. The catch and the 15-yard penalty gave Minnesota a first down at the Lions’ 38. Words were being exchanged on the sideline, and Delmas is an emotional player. Any excuse for the penalty?

A. No excuse. I get the emotion, the testosterone and everything that goes with it, but players have to hold it in. Send him a nasty tweet, or better yet, go back to the huddle and make a play on the next snap. But don’t hurt the team.

Q. Coach’s choice I: Bell’s lunge for a TD with 10 seconds left cut the Vikings’ lead to 14-12. The Lions kicked the extra point instead of going for two to tie the game. Right call?

A. I would have gone for two, but most people take the one point with a whole half to play. It was an interesting decision, but not the wrong one.

Q. Coach’s choice II: In the first quarter, the Lions had fourth and one at the Vikings’ 14 and went for the first down instead of the field goal. The decision became moot, though. Joique Bell got the first down, but Brandon Pettigrew was called for holding on the play. The Lions settled for a field goal.Was going for the first down the right call by Coach Jim Schwartz?

A. For any reason you want, it was the right call. The Lions should have been in an attack mode, and they were on that play.

Q. The mighty Quin: His interception killed Minnesota’s last drive and let the Lions run out the clock. Was anything special about the play?

A. Yes. It was the way he ended the play. He could have returned for more yards, but he went down to make sure he didn’t risk giving it back on a fumble.

It was a class play by a player focused on winning.

It was a good way to end the game.