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O'HARA'S MONDAY COUNTDOWN: Lions close the deal on important business trip

There is a certain amount of satisfaction among the Detroit Lions for their upturn from the gloomy 0-2 start. It's not the wild, all-out celebration type of joy that a team might get from winning a championship or achieving some significant historical milestone.

It's more like closing the deal on an important business trip – which the Lions did with Sunday's 32-21 road win over the Miami Dolphins. That's a healthy sign for a team that has gotten it's record to 3-3 by winning three of its last four games.

The Lions were ruthlessly businesslike in taking the Dolphins apart in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams.

In fact, add a forth element – beating the heat. Add a fifth – the crowd. It seldom seemed like the Dolphins had a home field advantage in Hard Rock Stadium.

This week's Monday Countdown dissects what the Lions did to the Dolphins. There's a look at the contributions they got from the top of the roster to the role players, with takeaways on offense, defense and special teams, the different views of the two head coaches on what the Lions did in the run game, and the dilemma facing a team like the Dolphins with their backup quarterback.

We start at the top. With franchise owner Martha Firestone Ford:

1. Ford was obviously happy as she waited outside the Lions' locker room to speak to head coach Matt Patricia after he was finished talking to his team and taking care of the standard postgame issues.

Her comments were brief, but her state of mind – sheer happiness and relief – would have been evident if she hadn't said a word.

"I have a whole lot of good thoughts," she said, enjoying the moment with family members, as is her custom. "I watched the team play well.

"Those are my overall comments."

One man's opinion: Overall, she likes how the Lions look like a professional team that took care of business.

2. A winning coach's view: It wasn't just the stats that Matt Patricia liked – and the stats were good, especially for the offense. It was hard to fault anything the offense did – 248 yards rushing, 158 of them by rookie Kerryon Johnson, and 18 of 22 passing for 217 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions by Matthew Stafford.

The defense did its job, although less spectacularly. It put the clamps on the Dolphins pretty much when it was needed.

Patricia liked when the Dolphins' defense made it hard on the Lions' offense, the offense responded and dominated the line of scrimmage.

"They load the box, so it's hard to run against those guys," Patricia said, explaining how extra defenders were brought down to the line of scrimmage to take away the run. "Give our guys credit. I think they did a great job."

3. A losing coach's view: No way Dolphins head coach Adam Gase liked what he saw the Lions do to his defense.

The Lions scored a touchdown on their first possession, went three and out on the second, then scored two touchdowns and four field goals on the next six possessions.

"Basically, they could do whatever they wanted on that side of the ball," Gase told reporters after the game.

4. Three takeaways on role players:

Wide receiver TJ Jones: His primary value is that he can play every receiver position. Stafford trusts him to be in the right place, and he's reliable.

Before Sunday, he had two receptions for 10 yards on five targets in the first five games.

On Sunday, the Lions faced first and 25 on their second possession after a chop-block penalty on tackle Rick Wagner. On first down, Stafford threw a strike down the right sideline to Jones, who caught it for a 26-yard gain. It was typical Jones. Right place. Right route. First down on his only catch of the game.

Fullback Nick Bellore: In his eighth season, and second as a Lion, he was shifted from linebacker to full-time fullback, where he'd gotten a few snaps last season. Two weeks ago he opened a path to the end zone for one of two one-yard TD runs by LeGarrette Blount.

Against the Dolphins, Bellore cleared the way with a block for a two-yard TD run by Blount that gave the Lions a 17-7 lead late in the first half. The hole was so big it looked like the Dolphins might have been a player or two short on defense.

Patricia and GM Bob Quinn want a tougher, stronger team. Plays like short-yardage TDs are producing that.

Tight end Michael Roberts: He had four catches in 2017 as a rookie drafted in the fourth round, and one catch in two games this year. That was a TD catch in the loss to the 49ers in Week 2. On Sunday, he had three catches, two of them for touchdowns.

It was Roberts' first game since Week 2. He missed the last three with a knee injury.

If Roberts becomes a consistent red-zone threat, as the Lions envisioned he might be based on his production as a senior at Toledo, they'll have another option that will give them a top three offense in the NFC.

Running back Ameer Abdullah: His playing time has been taken up by Johnson and others, but he keeps his head in the game. He took Jamal Agnew's place on kickoff returns, but all four of the Dolphins' kickoffs were touchbacks.

Abdullah had a key 12-yard catch, on a second and 13. Stafford ultimately converted a quarterback sneak on fourth down, but the drive stalled, and the Lions had to settle for one of Matt Prater's four field goals.

5. Three takeaways on offense:

Stafford: After a four-interception nightmare in the opening-game loss to the Jets – and a passer rating of 47.9 for the game -- he's had five straight games with a rating of over 100. His top two one-game ratings were 138.1 against the Dolphins and 131.5 against Dallas. No doubt, he benefits from the run game – which no doubt benefits from his golden arm.

Jim Bob Cooter: If anyone appreciates how the resources that have been put in the run game are paying dividends more than Stafford, it's offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. He has so many more options in calling plays – and not just options to pass or run. It's the top of runs, and what they open up for other plays. More to come.

T.J. Lang: He really does make a difference at right guard with his experience and toughness.

6. Three takeaways on defense:

Pass rusher: The Lions don't have one, in the sense of an individual game-changer, or anyone equivalent to Ziggy Ansah when he's healthy. But they do have a pass rush. They're getting to the quarterback by committee. The Lions had four more sacks Sunday, giving them 21 for the season. Devon Kennard leads the team with five sacks, Romeo Okwara has four, and Eli Harold and Jarrad Davis three each.

Interceptions: The Lions had one on the first play of the season, and Quandre Diggs returned it for a touchdown. It was a great start. Since then they've had one interception in 183 pass attempts, and they've given up a passer rating of 107.1.

Jarrad Davis: He's steadily getting better at middle linebacker. Three sacks for a middle linebacker is pretty good production, and he led the Lions with seven tackles Sunday.

7. Three takeaways on special teams:

Matt Prater: We've seen opposite ends of the spectrum in the Lions' last two games what impact a field-goal kicker can have on a game. Mason Crosby missed four field-goal attempts and an extra point in the Lions win over the Packers in Week 5. On Sunday, Prater was 4-for-4 on field goals, with a 50-yarder just after the two-minute warning that closed out the scoring. He's clutch at long range.

Kickoff coverage: The coverage team did a good job on Jakeem Grant, holding the Dolphins' primary return man to a 24.7-yard average on three kickoff returns. Miami never had a kickoff start beyond its own 25 on Sam Martin's eight kickoffs.

Golden Tate: With Agnew out, Tate handled punt returns. He's sure-handed and willing – a good combination for a front-line receiver in his ninth season.

8. QB difference, Dolphins' dilemma: Stafford going straight to the air on first and 25 on the first possession is 180 degrees opposite the options the Dolphins have with Brock Osweiler. They had third and 10 at the Lions' 42 near the end of the first quarter – and handed off on a running play that gained one yard.

There were resounding boos from Dolphins fans.

If anyone wants to question the value of having a top-tier quarterback, remember those boos.

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