FIRST DOWN: SWIFT STEPS UP
A popular question I got this week in my 10 Questions with Twentyman column was the usage, or lack thereof, of rookie running back D’Andre Swift the first four weeks of the season in the run game, and whether we might see more from him moving forward.
It turns out the Lions looked to Swift early and often Sunday in Jacksonville. His 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns helped the Lions notch a 34-16 victory to improve their record to 2-3 on the season.
Swift entered the game rushing just 12 times in Detroit's first four games for 42 yards and a touchdown. He's been a big part of the passing game, but Sunday against the Jags he had the hot hand early.
Swift became the first Lions rookie since Barry Sanders in 1989 to rush for at least 100 yards and score two touchdowns in a game.
That has to be a real confidence booster for the second-round draft pick out of Georgia.
"It comes with during the week, my preparation," Swift said of his increased role and production Sunday. "Just allowing them to see me run the plays that are called and trust in me so we can get this thing rolling."
Swift said he's up for whatever role the Lions have for him moving forward.
SECOND DOWN: RUN DEFENSE
Heading into Sunday's game, the Lions were last in the NFL stopping the run, allowing on average 170.3 yards per game. Every coach and every player on defense who spoke to the media heading into the bye last week and then again this week said stopping the run has been a point of emphasis for them.
Detroit showed tremendous improvement against the run Sunday. Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson came into the game leading all rookies in total scrimmage yards, but was held to just 29 yards on 12 carries. He caught four passes for 24 yards and a late fourth-quarter touchdown with the Lions holding a big lead.
"I thought the front did a great job, the linebackers and the D-line and some of the DB's that were in the box, we had a couple different looks for them, which I thought was good, and I think those guys played aggressive," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game. "Jacksonville has a great run game, we know that, we talked about it all week, and it was a big challenge for us, I'm just happy. Give credit to the players."
THIRD DOWN: HOLDING THE LEAD
The Lions were the only team in NFL history that had lost six straight games in which they held a double-digit lead. That's not one of those records a team wants to be associated with. But to break it, the Lions needed to find a way to get a lead and keep it. Sunday in Jacksonville, they figured out the formula.
Detroit jumped out to a 14-3 lead and kept their foot on the gas, pumping the lead up to 17-3 and then 24-3. When the Jaguars trimmed the lead to 24-10 late in the third quarter on a Gardner Minshew 6-yard touchdown run, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford orchestrated a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a Swift 6-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, to give the Lions a 31-10 lead.
That put the dagger in Jacksonville's chances of a comeback, and broke the streak of losing games after double-digit leads.
FOURTH DOWN: TEAM EFFORT
The Lions put up a full-team effort on offense Sunday, racking up 403 yards of total offense, with 180 of those on the ground. Detroit was 4-for-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and 3-for-3 in goal-to-go situations.
Detroit held the time of possession edge, 35 minutes and 57 seconds to 24 minutes and three seconds for Jacksonville.
Individually, Swift has 116 yards on the ground with two scores, and wide receiver Kenny Golladay topped 100 receiving yards with 105 on four catches (26.3 average). They are the first running back-receiver duo to record at least 100 yards for the Lions in a single game since Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson in 2013.
"I still think there's quite a bit (left) out there," Stafford said of the offensive performance after the game. "We definitely try to spread the ball around. We try to get everybody involved in the game. Sometimes guys have more big plays, more yards than other guys, but we have a great, unselfish group. We all just want to do whatever we can to get in the end zone and help our team win games."