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O'HARA'S WEEK 3 PREVIEW: What changed for Hutchinson between Games 1 and 2

It was one week ago that I wrote about Detroit Lions rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson and the predictable growing pains that no doubt played a part in his debut.

One assisted tackle was his only entry on his stats sheet.

Judging by the way he filled up the stats sheet in his second game, he must have grown up in a hurry. He could make an impact for the Lions in Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Hutchinson led the Lions in their win over the Washington Commanders with three sacks. He also had five solo tackles and one assist, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.

Why the big difference from the first game to his second?

"He had an opportunity in the first game to make some plays," said defensive line coach Todd Wash. "Before that first drive he was out of character. There were a couple of things he didn't do exactly like he should have.

"I think that's first-game jitters – playing at home."

Hutchinson, who starred at Michigan and played at Dearborn Divine Child High School, obviously recovered from the opening-game loss to the Eagles to make an impact in the win over the Commanders.

"This game ... he was in position to make plays." Wash said. "I still think he left about two or three sacks out there, and that's a big thing we're talking about. You've got to make plays you are capable of making.

"He really would have had an impressive game if he had done that."

Hutchinson ended the game limping from a thigh injury. He did not participate in practice Wednesday.

Wash showed no mercy on the field Sunday.

"He came over to me limping," Wash said. "I said, 'That's a long way away from your heart here. We've got a lot of games to play. There are no excuses for little naggy things.'"

Three keys, Lions:

1. Offense - stay in control: The Lions took a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the opening game vs. the Eagles. They went three and out on the next three possessions and fell behind, 21-7.

They played catch up the rest of the game and never caught up in a 38-35 loss.

It was a different story in Game 2 against the Commanders. The Lions took a 22-0 lead and never trailed.

The Commanders got within seven points once and eight points once. Both times the Lions answered back to extend the lead, first with a touchdown pass to running back D’Andre Swift and then one to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

They played with confidence, poise and purpose in the second half to maintain control.

That's winning football.

2. Defense - pressure Kirk Cousins: The Vikings had five possessions in the first half in Monday night's loss to the Eagles and weren't able to do much with them.

They went three and out on four of them and scored their only touchdown on the other.

The Eagles had only two sacks, but they kept pressure on Cousins, who is not particularly mobile. He's similar to Commanders QB Carson Wentz in terms of mobility.

Cousins completed 27 of 46 passes for 221 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown.

"Part of the challenge is, we didn't stay on the field," Cousins said in a postgame interview. "We didn't run enough plays. Those three and outs early aren't how we want to start.

"Their defense deserves credit. They did a good job with rush and coverage."

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.

3. Unexpected big play: Defensive lineman Charles Harris gave the Lions a big one with a safety on a sack of Wentz. The two points gave the Lions a 5-0 lead, and they widened it immediately.

A big return from Kalif Raymond on the ensuing free kick put the Lions in position to score, and they took full advantage of their opportunity.

St. Brown's touchdown catch increased the lead to 12-0.

Vikings' star look ahead: Wide receiver Justin Jefferson has made Pro Bowl appearances in his first two seasons, and there is a strong likelihood that he'll make it three in a row

Jefferson wasn't looking that far ahead after the Monday night loss to the Eagles. The game did not go the way he expected. It was a poor performance for the Vikings all the way around.

Jefferson had six catches for 48 yards. He took the blame in his postgame interview for not running a route properly. The result was one of three interceptions thrown by Cousins.

He had nine catches for 184 yards and two TDs in the opening-game win over the Packers.

"The most frustrating thing is just losing," Jefferson said. "You want to come in here and dominate, especially after last week's performance.

"We've got to look at the film, a short turnaround, and on to Detroit."

My pick: Lions at Vikings: The Lions shouldn't feel overmatched, even though the Vikings are favored by seven points. Both games last season were decided by two points – a 19-17 win for the Vikings in Week 6, and 29-27 for the Lions in Week 13. The home team won both times. A slight edge goes to the Vikings, but not enough to cover.

Vikings 27, Lions 24.

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