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FILM REVIEW: Breaking down Johnson's 71-yard run

The Detroit Lions thoroughly dominated in the trenches in Sunday's 32-21 victory over the Dolphins in Miami.

But maybe even more impressive is that Detroit dominated the second and third levels in the run game too. Big runs don't happen without all 11 players doing their job, and there's no play from Sunday's game that better embodies that belief than Kerryon Johnson's 71-yard scamper early in the second quarter.

The play shows that when everyone on offense does what they're supposed to do, big plays can be the result. That play is the focus of this week's Film Review.

The Lions are facing 2nd and 5 at their own 9-yard line and come out in 11 personnel (3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 RB). Pre-snap, quarterback Matthew Stafford motions Kenny Golladay, the lone receiver right of the formation, back to the left, which puts all three receivers on the left side of the formation.

Tight end Levine Toilolo is on the line to the right, and the Lions are going to run a simple power play out of the shotgun off right tackle.


At the snap, the blocking from the guys upfront at the point of attack is phenomenal. The initial hole opens up thanks to right guard Kenny Wiggins doing a great job blocking Dolphins three-technique defensive tackle Phil Taylor out of the play. At the same time, Toilolo does a great job locking onto defensive end Cameron Malveaux and taking him out of the play.


What turns a 5-yard run into a 71-yard run is the work by the blockers in the second level and the running back's ability to make people miss.

Left guard Frank Ragnow, one of Detroit's most athletic offensive linemen, pulls right and leads Johnson into the hole. At the same time, right tackle Rick Wagner is doing a nice job maneuvering to the second level and sealing off the other Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux from scraping down the line and getting into the play.


Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonzo had no shot against Frank Ragnow in the hole, but Wagner also does a great job getting a second block on this play. After the initial block on Godchaux, Wagner continues on to get enough of Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan, which is really the block that springs Johnson. McMillian had a beat on Johnson if not for the Wagner block.


"The front did a great job of getting around, getting a solid block on the guy, kicking him out," Johnson said after the game of the play. "From there it was just me and the safety one on one. Corner was outside, but didn't feel like he had a great angle. There was a lot of trash over there he had to work through."

Now it's a foot race between Johnson and Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who is just able to clip Johnson's feet, but not after Johnson is 71 yards down the right sideline.

"Look, since high school I've been caught from behind enough times for me to know that's how it happens in life," Johnson said. "But I haven't ran 71 yards in a long time, so I was proud of myself."


Johnson finished with 158 yards on the ground, the most since Jahvid Best (163) in 2011. The Lions finished with 248 rushing yards for the game, the most as a team since 1997.

Those statistics are a direct result of plays like this one. Excellent blocking at the point of attack and terrific running behind it.

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