Running back LeGarrette Blount answered some questions and produced when it was time to play his role in the one-two threat the Detroit Lions have worked to add to their offense this season.
There might have been some legitimate concern going into Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers about whether the Lions really had added the short-yardage running threat that has long been a missing element in the offense.
Rookie Kerryon Johnson had provided the speed and big-play threat in the first four games – and continued that in Sunday's 31-23 victory over the Packers.
What we learned Sunday is that the work done with draft picks and free-agent signings is starting to pay dividends. Blount scored the Lions' first two touchdowns on one-yard runs.
Among the other things we learned is that Lions head coach Matt Patricia understands from being on the opposite side the dilemma of having to stop the run, that the hard work that doesn't show on the stats sheet is appreciated by teammates and they share in the fun, and Detroit isn't the only place where it seems like the world has come to an end when the football team loses.
We start with Blount:
He performed his specialty early and often against the Packers.
On the Lions' first possession, he converted a third-and-one at the Packers' 46. The drive stalled, forcing a punt – but the tone was set for what Blount would do with help from the blocking unit up front.
The Lions recovered the muffed punt at the Packers' one-yard line. On first down, Blount ran behind fullback Nick Bellore's block to score the Lions' first touchdown.
On the next possession, the Lions had first and goal at the five after a 60-yard catch and run by Kenny Golladay. Blount plowed ahead for four yards on first down, then blasted into the end zone for a second touchdown that made it 14-0.
In the fourth quarter, after the Packers had cut what had been a 24-0 deficit to 24-14, the Lions were on the move with second and one at the Packers' 38. Blount failed to gain on second down.
Pass or run on third down, with the Packers' defense tightening the gaps?
The Lions of previous seasons might have given up on the run there. This year's edition didn't. Blount got six yards on third and one, and the possession ended in Matthew Stafford's five-yard TD pass to Golladay.
A look at the stats sheet didn't say much about Blount's day: 12 carries for 22 yards, an average of 1.8 yards per carry. But the scoreboard said otherwise. He scored two TDs, and he kept another possession going that ended in Golladay's TD catch.
"Those are important plays," Patricia said Monday. "Certainly, in those situations, they're critical."
After the game, Blount sounded like a man who likes doing the heavy work. Which is the case. He does.
"We want to play tough, downhill, hard-nosed football on this team in all three phases," he said. "Our offensive line played great again, and they're going to keep the ball rolling.
"They've been playing great for us the last few weeks, and we're going to continue to rely on them when it comes to getting points around there, and when it comes to protecting the quarterback.
"It was fun."
Among the other things we learned are the following:
Coaching dilemma: From his days as defensive coordinator of the Patriots, Patricia understands the dilemma of stopping the run, and how it can lead to other problems.
He also understands the payoff of the withering effect of a strong run game. It can sap the energy and take the will out of a defense.
"You have to really look at the problems," Patricia said . "We've certainly had our share this year in those situations. You have to really look at the problems.
"When a team can run the ball, and they can control the game up front, it's really not a very settling feeling defensively. You have to really take a look at what you're doing fundamentally, and make sure everybody's in the right position so it can be corrected."
Props for blocks: Teammates recognize and appreciate the gritty work that lets the stars shine.
Bellore got a shout out from linebacker Eli Harold for the block he delivered on Blount's first TD. He had an isolation block on linebacker Antonio Morrison to clear a path for Blount to the end zone.
First for Ragnow: While Blount was the beneficiary of Bellore's block, rookie guard Frank Ragnow got a reward for the touchdown.
Blount gave the ball to Ragnow, who spiked it. It was Ragnow's first spike at any level. It was an over-hand power spike.
"I went to pick him up, and he handed me the ball," Ragnow said. "I was nervous. It was pure adrenalin."
Dooms Day: That's what it looks like in Green Bay from the headlines on Sunday's game.
Headlines in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Packers mired in predictable pattern."
"Packers difference makers fail to show."
"Are the Packers as bad as they looked in Detroit?"