Atlanta – From Thanksgiving Day 2013 right up to the start of this past season, most articles written about a Detroit Lions running back or Detroit's run game in general had mention of Reggie Bush being the last player to rush for 100 yards in a game for the team.
It was a streak of games that reached triple digits before finally being broken Week 3 of this past season by rookie Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries in a 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots.
That was a nationally broadcast game on Sunday Night Football in September, and Bush happened to be watching.
"I did watch the game and I was excited," Bush said Wednesday at the Super Bowl. "I was excited to finally see that there was a 100-yard rusher. I was just excited to see there was production from the backfield, because it had been too long. That record should have never lasted that long."
Johnson was a breath of fresh air in the Lions' backfield this past season, even with his rookie campaign cut short due to a knee injury.
The second-round pick was second in the league with a 5.4 rushing average among the 49 running backs with at least 100 rushes. He broke 100 yards for a second time Week 7 with a 158-yard performance in Miami. He finished with 641 yards on just 118 carries with three scores in 10 games. He showed the ability to also be a weapon in the passing game, catching 32 balls for another 213 yards and a score.
Through 10 games, Johnson had 640-plus rushing yards with three touchdowns and 210-plus receiving yards and one touchdown. He joined Billy Sims (1980) as the only Lions rookies to reach these numbers through their first 10 career games and joined Kareem Hunt (2017) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016) as the only rookies to produce the stat line since the 2013 season.
Johnson will have a new offensive coordinator next season in Darrell Bevell, who headed up some of the league's top rushing offenses a few years ago while in Seattle.
"I think Detroit has a good backfield and have a bright future, especially with guys like Kerryon Johnson," Bush said. "I was excited to see him break the record and get 100 yards. Now, I want to see more of it consistently."
It's a sentiment shared by Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who like Bush, likes what he saw from Johnson in a small sample size, but is also looking for more from the 21-year-old Johnson in year two.
"I was impressed with Kerryon," Tomlinson said. "I really was. I think he had a great stretch (Week 3-7) there that was maybe better than any running back in football at the time. He had a nice little stretch there.
"I think for him, obviously, the injury concerns are there a little bit because he did get hurt in college and then this year. But I think he showed enough where you can say, 'This is a kid that can be our guy. Yes, we're going to have someone to spell him, but he should be the guy in the backfield and just let him go. Let him be the three-down guy. He has that type of talent."