FIRST DOWN: OFFENSE ROLLING
Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox had a light day at the office Sunday.
He booted some kickoffs and held for four field goals and three extra points, but his specialty is punting, and the Lions didn't need any of that in their 40-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field.
Fox didn't punt a single time vs. Jacksonville as the Lions scored on their first eight possessions of the game – touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal, field goal, touchdown, field goal, touchdown. The only possession they didn't score on was the final one with a couple kneel downs to end the game.
The Lions racked up 31 first downs in the contest. They were 8-of-12 on third down, 4-for-4 in the red zone and totaled 437 yards of offense. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a 115.9 passer rating.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson pulled all the right strings and called a terrific game.
The Lions topped 30 points for the sixth time this season, tied with the 1952 Lions for the second most 30-point games Detroit has had in a season. The record belongs to the 2011 team (7). Detroit has now scored 25-plus points in four straight games for the first time since 2012.
The Lions' offense is getting healthy at the right time, and they're going to be tough to handle the rest of the way.
SECOND DOWN: SWIFT USAGE
Lions head coach Dan Campbell said running back D’Andre Swift had a spring in his step Wednesday at practice and looked the best he's looked in some time as Swift's battled ankle and shoulder injuries all season long.
Swift led the Lions with 18 touches Sunday, the most he's had since Week 1 vs. Philadelphia (18). He rushed 14 times for 62 yards (4.4 average) with a 1-yard touchdown. He also caught four passes for 49 yards.
Swift finally looked like he did at the beginning of the year before the ankle and shoulder injuries zapped some of his explosiveness. That's going to be big for this offense moving forward.
When Swift is healthy, he's one of the best dual-threat backs in the NFL and a matchup nightmare for defenses. With him playing like he did Sunday, this offense could be tough to handle with the offensive line playing as well as they are and this wide receiver corps finally healthy.
"I'd say this is the best he's looked in practice," Campbell said of Swift. "We could tell on Wednesday he had a spring in his step, and he was feeling better. Every day he looked better and felt better. We've said all along, the better he feels, when he feels he can really open up and go, then he's going to get more."
THIRD DOWN: SETTING THE TONE
Lions safety DeShon Elliott set the tone for the Lions and the defense on the second play of the game.
Jacksonville running back Travis Etienne broke through the left side of the line of scrimmage for a 13-yard gain, but Elliott laid the hammer on him at the end of the run to jar the ball loose. It was recovered by linebacker Alex Anzalone. The offense turned the takeaway into a touchdown, and the Lions never looked back from there.
The offense will be a big storyline coming out of this one because of their 40-point outing, but Detroit's defense was just as good. The Jaguars were held to nearly 100 yards under their average per game and were just 3-of-12 converting third downs. They scored just one touchdown all game.
"Set the whole tone for the game," Campbell said of the Elliott play. "That's how you start. Defense showed up and played well. They really couldn't get in a rhythm because our guys played well."
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a similar assessment after the game.
"Yeah, it's embarrassing honestly what we put out there in such a big game for us," he said. "Credit to them, those guys, those guys whooped us. I'm not taking anything away from them, but just the way we came out on both sides of the ball, all three phases, just didn't play anywhere close to our best football."
Credit the Lions for that.
FOURTH DOWN: ST. BROWN DOMINATES
"I can't speak enough of how confident I feel throwing him the ball right now," Goff said of second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown after Sunday's win.
And he should have all the confidence in the world that St. Brown will come down with the football more often than not, especially after watching St. Brown catch 11 of his 12 targets for 114 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars.
St. Brown converted on all four of his third-down targets against the Jaguars. He has gained a first down on a league-high 18.2 percent of his third-down routes this season (min. 50 routes), according to NextGen Stats.
St. Brown made a terrific catch at the 1-yard line on the Lions' first drive of the game with safety Andrew Wingard draped all over him. That ball could have easily fell incomplete or been popped up for an interception, but St. Brown was strong enough to corral it. He also held on to a 13-yard reception in the third quarter after taking a huge hit from Wingard. He's tough, gritty, and everything Campbell wants this team to be about.
St. Brown now has 76 receptions for 830 yards with six touchdowns on the year. It's not unreasonable to think he could reach his first 100-catch, 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season.