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FOUR DOWNS: Stafford-Jones Jr. connection heats up on MNF


The Detroit Lions are at their best when they can spread a defense out, protect upfront and let their playmakers on the outside go to work.

Detroit was clicking in all those phases Monday night, and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford picked apart the Packers' defense to the tune of 361 passing yards and two touchdowns in Detroit's 30-17 win. 

Both Marvin Jones Jr. (107) and Golden Tate (113) went over 100 yards receiving, with Jones catching both of Stafford's touchdowns. 

Jones and Stafford have been dialed in the last two weeks. The two have connected on 13 passes for 235 yards and a couple scores the last two weeks.

Monday night it was back-shoulder throws with Stafford trusting Jones to go up and make plays in one-on-one situations, which he did time and time again.

"Matt (Stafford) threw some great throws, and I just did what I love to do and go up there and get them," Jones said. "So, it was just a good execution, good play call. He put it where it needed to be, and I just catch it and make sure my feet are in."

Jones' big couple weeks has him back on track for a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season at the midway point of the year. He has 35 receptions for 515 yards and five touchdowns through eight games.

"Yeah, no question he played great," Stafford said of Jones after the game. "Marv's a really talented guy. He's got great body control. He's made some really tough, contested catches like he did tonight.

All the guys played well I thought. I didn't think anybody was off their game. So, it was nice."


Winning play.

That's what Stafford called the 4th and 2 tackle for loss by Lions safety Glover Quin midway through the third quarter. 

Trailing 17-3 with the ball at the 50-yard line, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took an opportunity on fourth down to try and change the momentum. The Packers attempted a jet-sweep-type play to slot receiver Randall Cobb, but Quin had it sniffed out from the very beginning.

As soon as Cobb went into motion, Quin read jet sweep, and like a missile, flew into the backfield to trip Cobb up for a 3-yard loss.

"Yeah, that was huge," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said of the play. "That was kind of a pivotal point in the game. That play gave us the ball obviously right around midfield.

"Now, we gave it right back to them about 10 or 15 yards later, but nevertheless, it nullified a score for them. And then I thought that was a really big play in the ball game."

It seems every week we see something like this from the veteran Quin, whether it's an interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery, or in this case, a huge tackle on fourth down.

He's certainly one of the best in the business at what he does.


The game plan defensively for the Lions coming in was to do their best to stop a recently potent Packers' rushing attack, and force quarterback Brett Hundley, making only his second career start, to beat them.

Check and mate for Teryl Austin's defense. 

View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions' Week 9 game at Green Bay on Monday Night Football.

The Lions held running back Aaron Jones to just 12 yards on five carries. He'd rushed for 297 yards combined in his last three contests.

In all, the Packers rushed for 78 yards and a couple of short touchdowns late in the fourth quarter after the game had already been decided.

"Defense did a nice job just in terms of they were able to hold the run down, held them below 100 yards, a team that can really run the ball with really good backs and a good offensive line," Caldwell said.

"So, I think our guys across the board, our down linemen, our linebackers, and the perimeter that's involved did a nice job. A couple plays popped out of there, a couple big plays, but overall defensively we played well."


Running back Ameer Abdullah had fumbling issues in college at Nebraska, and they popped up his rookie season in Detroit in 2015. He had five fumbles as a rookie, most of them early on, which cost him some playing time at one point. 

He did a much better job of hanging on to the football the second half of his rookie season, and it hasn't been an issue since. That is until Monday night in Green Bay when Abdullah fumbled twice.

Both fumbles occurred in Packers territory. The first came at the Green Bay 27 in the third quarter, which the Packers recovered. The second happened early in the fourth quarter at the Green Bay 1-yard line. Fortunately for Abdullah, right tackle Rick Wagner pounced on that one.

"Man, I was trying to reach the ball, being stupid," Abdullah said after the game of the second fumble. "Being stupid. I know that's not an opportunity, but I really wanted to score right there to really put it away. Selfish decision … " Abdullah had rushed more than 180 times without a fumble coming in. That's a streak that stretched back to Week 15 of the 2015 season. Hopefully Monday was just one of those fluke games.

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