The last time Penei Sewell allowed a defender he was blocking to sack quarterback Jared Goff was Week 10 of last season vs. Chicago. It's been a stretch of over 500 pass-blocking reps since that Sewell has kept Goff clean.
"He's been an anchor for us," Goff said of his Pro Bowl right tackle. "Certainly, having him on the right there anchoring that side opposite (Taylor) Decker has been awesome. He's done a great job. He keeps getting better. He's one of the most athletic big guys I've ever seen and he's a hell of a player."
Sewell hasn't allowed a sack or a quarterback hit yet this season and has just three total hurries in seven games. He can play right tackle, left tackle and would probably be a pretty good tight end too, if the Lions let him. He's that good of an athlete.
"He's trying to strive to be consistent in a lot of things," Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley said this week. "That's the biggest thing for us, is his consistency in play. He's fun to be around on the sidelines. He's fun at practice. He brings an intensity you guys love to see on the film with him. He just works hard, and I'm always challenging him not to get complacent and relax. I'm sure it's easy to get complacent when you're that good. But he doesn't. He doesn't allow it."
Football fans will be treated to a terrific matchup this week as Sewell faces two-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby on Monday night. Crosby leads the NFL with 35 quarterback hurries. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Crosby is the most disruptive defensive player the Lions have faced up to this point in the season.
Sewell is playing All-Pro caliber football, and he's also taken on a much bigger leadership role. He's the one in the middle speaking to the team on gamedays one last time when they huddle on the field before going to the locker room for introductions.
"I think that's kind of how you're going to grow in this league," Fraley said. "You're a quiet guy in your role, and then your role continues to grow because people see the work ethic you put in, and not just on the field, but in the weight room, in the classroom, and that's where you grow that leadership. That's how you take over a team. Just do your job, do it to the best ability you can, and then people will start to lean that way.
"I mean, leaders in the building, when they come in, it's not the guys who point to themselves and their chests and say, 'Hey, I'm the leader.' Those are the guys no one listens to. And (Sewell) just came in and earned the respect and continues to do that. Through his work ethic, he shows he's a leader. That's what's so great about him."
RESPONDING TO ADVERSITY
The Lions got served a little humble pie as Campbell likes to say in last week's loss to Baltimore. How the Lions respond this week will say a lot about the character and resilience of this football team.
"We all really embrace adversity here," Lions defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson said. "I think it pushes us more than the wins ever do. I know it's kind of a tough pill to swallow for Lions fans and it's a tough pill to swallow for us but like it or not we are growing more than we ever have and that's why weeks like this are critical in a season."
Hutchinson said this team has responded to adversity before, after their Week 2 loss to Seattle, and he expects the same thing Monday night at Ford Field.
"We're ready to go, man," he said. "We're all just chomping at the bit to get back out there."
STRENGTH ON STRENGTH
Goff has played really good football this season ranking among the NFL leaders in most significant passing categories. When he decides to stretch the field in the passing game, he's been particularly lethal. Goff's 32 completions of 20-plus yards lead the NFL, and his seven touchdown passes from 20-plus is also tops in the league.
Detroit's ability to create big plays in the passing game will be challenged this week. The Raiders' defense has allowed only 10 passes of 20-plus yards this season, the fewest in the league through seven games. The Raiders are only allowing 187.4 passing yards per game, the fifth best mark in the NFL.
- Campbell said they are preparing to face veteran Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback Monday night. Garoppolo missed the Raiders' loss to Chicago last week with a back injury but he returned to practice on Thursday and is expected to play.
- Veteran running back David Montgomery is 'continuing to improve' from the rib injury that kept him out of last week's loss in Baltimore, but he didn't take part in practice Thursday and looks to be a long shot to play Monday.