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FOUR DOWNS: Run defense still a problem for Lions


Acquiring big, run-stuffing defensive tackle Damon Harrison via trade from the New York Giants this week was never going to solve Detroit's issues stopping the run this season alone. When it comes to playing the run, all 11 players have to be involved.

The Lions were better against the run when Harrison was in the game Sunday vs. Seattle, but they still allowed the Seahawks to run 42 times for 176 yards for an average of 4.2 yards per carry in a 28-14 Seattle win.

It's the fourth time this year the Lions have allowed an opponent to rush for more than 150 yards in a game. The Lions are 0-4 in those games. In their four losses this season, Detroit's allowed 190, 183, 176 and 169 rushing yards.

Seattle came into the game rushing at least 30 times for more than 100 yards in each of their last four contests. The Lions knew it was coming, but still couldn't stop it.

"Seattle has run the ball really well, so we knew it was going to be a big challenge for us," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said.

"It's a whole team effort in the run game. We have to get everyone executing better. I have to coach it better. We have to get the fits right and get off some blocks and get our fundamentals better. It's not one player. It's a whole team effort."

Now at the midway point of the season, is there still time to fix all the issues we're seeing against the run?


"Football is a three phase game," Patricia said in his postgame press conference. "We speak about it every week. We have to go out and do our job in all three phases. Right now, I'm not real pleased with any phase."

It's true the Lions didn't play well in any phase Sunday, but special teams were particularly bad for Detroit.

In all, they accounted for a fumble on a kickoff (Ameer Abdullah), two poor punts by Sam Martin, three penalties on returns, and a breakdown late in the fourth quarter that allowed Seattle punter Michael Dickson to run for a nine-yard gain out of his own end zone on a 4th and 8 play with just 2:18 left to play and the Seahawks hanging on to a 28-14 lead.

Dickson told a Seattle radio station after the game he was supposed to run around the end zone and kill time before taking a safety, but saw a "massive gap" and just had to go for it.

"We'll go back and look at it and see where the breakdown was," Patricia said of that play. "Obviously, we're trying to do anything we can to get the ball and get after it. They were trying to take the safety and play that play there. We obviously let them out and let him run, he saw space and took it."

The Abdullah fumble in the second quarter really shifted the momentum in a 7-7 game at the time. Seattle scored a touchdown off the turnover to take a lead they never relinquished.

"It was definitely a good hit, he had his hat on the ball," Abdullah said of the play. "Definitely can't do that in that moment on that side of the field, you can't let the ball go."


A defensive back can sometimes do everything right, be in a perfect position to make a play, and occasionally the difference between making the play and not making it is a matter of inches.

That's certainly what happened Sunday in the loss to Seattle. Cornerbacks Nevin Lawson and Teez Tabor, and safety Quandre Diggs, were all in position to make plays in the end zone in the first half on passes thrown their way. The trio came up 0-for-3.

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett was able to outstretch Lawson for Seattle's first score. Tabor seemed to be in great position to make a play at the goal line on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver David Moore in the second quarter, but Tabor whiffed on the play, and Moore was able to bat the ball up to himself for the score. Later in the second quarter, Diggs was in great position to make a play in the end zone on a 12-yard pass to tight end Ed Dickson, but the 6-foot-4 Dickson out-muscled the 5-foot-9 Diggs for the ball, and suddenly the Lions were down 21-7.

It's the coaches job to put the players in the right position to make plays. They did that vs. Seattle. It's up to the players to then go up and make a play. Seattle did it better than Detroit's defense in this one.

"No doubt there were some good contested plays out there," Patricia said. "Unfortunately, we didn't come up on the right side of it. They did. They out-finished those plays and came down with them and they were big for them and obviously not good for us."

Simply put, Patricia said his defenders need to make more of those plays moving forward.

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 8 game against the Seattle Seahawks.


We've seen what Kerryon Johnson can do as a runner this season. Though it was a bit of a struggle Sunday in that regard for him (8 rushes for 22 yards), Johnson was still able to make an impact in the game as a receiver.

The rookie second-round pick out of Auburn caught six passes on eight targets for 69 yards. He's now caught 21 passes on the year. The most he ever caught in a season at Auburn was 24 passes.

Johnson is averaging 6.1 yards per carry on the season (77 rushes for 466 yards), and showing that he can be a very capable receiver, too.

This rookie is proving rather quickly he can be a complete three-down back in this league.

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