It seemed like an innocent enough play, but a three-yard run by Kerryon Johnson off the left tackle midway through the third quarter Sunday could turn out to be a significant play with ramifications over the next six weeks for the Detroit Lions.
Johnson came up limping after being tackled by safety Mike Adams, and was immediately met along the sideline by trainers. They checked out his left knee, and then Johnson was escorted by two medical personnel up the Lions tunnel and into the locker room. He did not return to the game.
Up to that point, Johnson had been a spark for the Lions' offense in their 20-19 win over Carolina. He had 87 rushing yards on just 15 carries (5.8 average), and recorded Detroit's first touchdown of the game on an eight-yard run in the first quarter.
"I don't have any injury updates on him right now," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said after the game of Johnson's injury. "So, we'll see. He's getting checked out by the doctors and we'll handle that."
Johnson's been good all year for Detroit, so a severe injury would be a big blow for Detroit's offense. Johnson leads Detroit's ground attack with 641 yards on the season. That's good for a 5.4 average. The next leading rusher is veteran LeGarrette Blount with 183 yards and a 2.3 average per rush.
"That's part of the sport," Patricia said of injuries. "This happens every single week, and for every team that plays. So, we just wait until we know concrete evidence, or circumstances, or situations or whatever it is."
"Some guys immediately after a game, you never really know because emotions and adrenaline and the body is revving at a high level, so you really have to just – if there's someone that's really seriously injured, make sure they're OK. But other than that, you have to kind of wait. Which is hard, but we have to wait and let all the doctors and the appropriate people that understand that stuff better than I do give me the information at that point."
There seems to be something fishy going on with opposing kickers when facing the Detroit Lions.
Reliable Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point in Detroit's 31-23 win over the Packers earlier this year.
Last week, in a 34-22 loss to Chicago, Bears kicker Cody Parkey bounced two field goals and two extra points off the uprights.
Sunday it was Carolina kicker Graham Gano bouncing a 34-yard field goal off the left upright and missing an extra point wide left in Detroit's 20-19 victory. The misses no-doubt played a part in Carolina head coach Ron Rivera going for two points after a late touchdown in the fourth quarter instead of sending Gano out again to try and tie the game with a kick.
"I've been hitting the ball well, obviously it's a tough one to swallow," Gano said after the game. "You never want to have a game like this, but it happens. I'll go out there and work hard this week and bounce back. I'm still fully confident, I've been having a great year. It's not really going to change a lot, just keep kicking."
Kickers beware when facing the Lions.
THIS ONE COUNTS
After having a huge interception late in the loss to San Francisco Week 2 overturned because of a holding penalty away from the play, it was good to see rookie safety Tracy Walker get his first official interception of the year late in the first half.
"I'm definitely blessed and definitely honored to even be able to make plays like that," Walker said. "With that being said, I'm just happy. I'm very excited. Like I said, I'm just going to enjoy this win."
Walker, Detroit's third-round pick this year, has been earning more and more playing time lately. With plays like that, he'll earn even more.
HONORING THE FALLEN
Sunday was Detroit's Salute to Service game, and a number of players wore decals to honor fallen soldiers in battle.
Patricia wore a pin with a picture of CPO Heath Robinson (United States Navy). Heath's father Dan Robinson was in attendance.
"We're honoring some families of Michigan that have lost loved ones and its part of the week, what I had mentioned earlier, with our guys doing a great job of paying respect and showing their support for those that have gone out and made the ultimate sacrifice," Patricia said.
- Lions punter Sam Martin had a good game. He dropped three punts inside the 10-yard line, and finished with average of 46.8 yards and a net average of 43.7.
- Detroit had nine rushing first downs in the game.
- The Lions were penalized just once all game on an illegal formation penalty.