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FOUR DOWNS: Riddick's impact


Theo Riddick proved last season how big of an impact he could have in the passing game, as he led all running backs with 80 receptions.

The Lions entered the 2016 season with plans to give him more opportunities to run the ball. If they didn't, they'd open themselves up to being too predictable when Riddick was in the game.

He took all the first-team reps this offseason as Ameer Abdullah sat out due to shoulder surgery, and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said he could see improvement in that aspect of Riddick's game. He entered this season with a 2.9 career average running the ball.

Riddick had a huge impact both running the ball and catching it in Detroit's 39-35 win in Indianapolis. He had 45 rushing yards on just seven carries (6.4 average), including a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

He caught five passes for 63 more yards (12.6 average), including a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and a 19-yard grab on the final possession that set up Matt Prater's winning field goal.

"He's a very, very fine, it's an understatement to say he's a fine open-field runner," head coach Jim Caldwell said. "He really can make some things happen, he can make you miss, he's got a lot of God-given ability to get north and south.

"He shows up a lot in crucial times in games, he's not afraid of the moment."

If Riddick can continue to be a dual threat alongside Abdullah (63 rushing, 57 receiving), Detroit's offense will continue to roll.


As Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford proved Sunday in Indianapolis, 37 seconds and three timeouts is an eternity for an NFL quarterback to get his team in field goal range.

"We practice those situations all the time, we typically practice that situation with no timeouts, so we felt pretty good with three," Caldwell said. "We were trying to save our timeouts, you probably saw us kind of walking down, getting prepared to call timeouts, but (the Colts) called a couple.

"We knew if we had 30-something odd seconds left, particularly with enough timeouts under our belt, we could get ourselves in field goal range."

It's a credit to the whole Lions team they were in a situation to have those three timeouts late. They didn't have to use one on defense or earlier in the game because of a silly mistake.

After the Colts went up 35-34 with just 43 seconds left in the game, Stafford and the Lions offense had 37 seconds from their own 25-yard line, and those three timeouts, to navigate into Matt Prater field goal range.

The three timeouts were big because they allowed the full scope of playbook to be at Stafford's disposal. If they didn't have the timeouts, they would have had to play the sidelines, and the Colts would have know that too.

The first play was a 20-yard reception over the middle to Theo Riddick.

Timeout: 1st and 10 from Detroit 44.

Stafford then completed a 9-yard pass to Eric Ebron.

Timeout: 2nd and 1 from Colts 44.

Stafford then hit Marvin Jones for a 22-yard gain down the left sideline.

Timeout: 1st and 10 at Colts 25-yard line.

Jones probably should have stepped out of bounds and preserved the last timeout, but after an incomplete pass, Matt Prater was set up from 43 yards to redeem an earlier missed extra point. He didn't miss this time.


Matthew Stafford and Jim Bob Cooter continue their hot streak together.

After Cooter took over as offensive coordinator midway through last season, Stafford proceeded to play the best stretch of football of his career the last eight games.

He completed over 70 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and had a 110.1 passer rating during that span. The Lions were also 6-2 over that stretch.

Stafford continued right where he left off last season by completing 31-of-39 passes (79 percent) for 340 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 128.6 passer rating.

Stafford became the first quarterback in NFL history to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in every game last year. He kept that streak in tact Sunday as well.

"Guys were out there making plays and that's what it's about," Stafford said. "They did what they were supposed to do. They go out there, get open, catch the rock and made plays for us. It was nice."

That was an understaffed Colts defense on Sunday, but it doesn't change the fact that Stafford continues to roll.


"I think I was so mad I could have kicked it from midfield."

That was what Prater told after the game about how he was feeling after missing the extra point after the Lions go-ahead touchdown with a little over four minutes left in the game.

It opened the door for an Adam Vinatieri extra point to give the Colts a 35-34 lead with just 43 seconds left.

But Prater was given a chance at redemption with a 43-yard field goal in the waning moments to win it for Detroit. Of course, he made the second chance to be the hero.

"For him to bounce back was huge," Caldwell said. "I'm not certain of all the details, what went wrong, but nevertheless oftentimes you see a guy like that, that happens to him, and the second one is even more difficult.

"He's one of those guys with unusual focus and ability, he bounced back and did a nice job of getting that win for us."

Since the NFL moved extra points back to the 25-yard line last season, Prater has missed four. Three last year and the one on Sunday.

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