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FOUR DOWNS: Johnson just what the Lions needed


The Detroit Lions have found themselves a running back.

Speed, agility, vision and toughness were all on display in Miami Sunday from Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson.

Johnson, Detroit's second-round pick this offseason, ran through and around the Dolphins' defense to the tune of 158 yards on 19 carries in Detroit's 32-21 victory on the road in Miami. That comes out to an 8.3 average per rush.

Johnson gave all the credit to his offensive line in his postgame press conference, and those guys upfront were good for the Lions all game, but Johnson is exactly what this offense has needed from that position for years – a do-it-all back capable of this kind of performance.

The Lions totaled 248 yards rushing in all, with LeGarrette Blount chipping in 50, Golden Tate 30, Matthew Stafford 9 and Ameer Abdullah one yard on his lone carry.

"Haven't been a part of too many of those," Stafford said of the run game. "It was a whole lot of fun."

It should be fun for Stafford. With Johnson, this is the most complete and balanced offense he's had in his Lions' tenure.

In the end, it was the Lions' best performance on the ground in more than two decades, not since Barry Sanders was toting the rock.

Johnson already has two 100-yard performances this season (101 vs. New England), and there's no reason not to think many more are on the horizon. He's rushed for 444 yards on just 69 carries in six games, which comes out to a 6.4 average per rush.


The Lions look like they have a terrific back in Johnson, and a complement of runners alongside him. Detroit's offensive line is playing really good football right now. The receiving trio of Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay might be the most complete in the NFL.

The one thing that's really been missing from the offense so far this season has been consistent playmaking ability from the tight end position.

It's only been two games, but second-year tight end Michael Roberts has shown us something in that regard over his last two games.

He caught three passes for 48 yards against the Dolphins, two going for touchdowns (15 & 4). He's caught three touchdowns on the last four footballs thrown his way.

This was the first game back for Roberts since injuring his knee following the Week 2 loss in San Francisco -- a game in which he also caught a 15-yard touchdown. The Lions drafted Roberts in the fourth round to be a red zone weapon for them, and he's been exactly that over his last two games.

Lions tight ends came into the contest catching just 10 passes all season. They had five Sunday with Luke Willson also catching two passes.

"Just to be able to add a tight end threat is going to bring our offense to a whole well-rounded offense," Roberts said. "Hopefully, we just continue to roll with the punches and keep delivering."


The Lions thoroughly dominated Miami in the trenches. Teams don't rush for nearly 250 yards and accumulate over 450 yards total without that being the case.

"When you are eight yards per carry, that means your life is pretty easy," Johnson said of the play of his offensive line.

Detroit's o-line showed a lot of toughness, sure, but they also showed off some athleticism. The ability to pull and block in space was a big component of Sunday's win.

It was rookie Frank Ragnow pulling off the right edge and stoning a defender that helped spring Johnson on his 71-yard run. Tackle Rick Wagner made a couple nice blocks in space.

"Definitely those guys that can do that and make those difficult blocks, or get out into space and operate at that level, it's obviously good for us," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "There's a lot of hard work that goes into that.

"Jeff Davidson is doing a great job with that group and T.J. Lang leads the charge there. Some of those outside pulls like there's a specific technique that's involved with those and it takes time to kind of learn. Obviously, it's not a finished product, but just happy those guys did a good job with the execution of it today."


Well Lions fans, that's what this Detroit offense can look like when it's humming on all cylinders.

There's obviously some things they can do better, red zone efficiency (3-of-6) being one, but when the Lions have the threat of the run, it's a whole different ball game for Stafford and the passing game.

The play action is so much better, teams have to drop an extra defender in the box, which Miami ended up doing. How many times over the years have we seen that?

The Lions had 24 rushing first downs vs. 12 through the air. Detroit had the ball eight times and scored on seven of those drives. Sam Martin beat the heat by punting just once.

Stafford was sacked just one time and hit just twice. All around it was one of the most dominant offensive performances from the Lions in some time, and it was against a Dolphins team that plays pretty good defense, especially at home.

"We're always going to try to be balanced the best we can," Patricia said. "We want to be able to run it if we have to and throw it when we have to do that. So it was good to see the run game be productive today."

"Just proud of our guys for executing and going out and doing a good job of with their assignments and getting a hat on a hat and just trying to block them. So, give our guys credit, I think they did a good job."

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