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FOUR DOWNS: Rookie pass rushers come up big in Lions' win over Bears


Rookie pass rusher James Houston had 3.0 sacks in Detroit's 41-10 win over Chicago Sunday. Fellow rookie Josh Paschal had 2.0 sacks. It marks the first time in franchise history two rookies have logged at least 2.0 sacks in the same game. Rookie Aidan Hutchinson also notched a half sack, had an interception and jumped on a fumble Houston caused.

Detroit's rookie defenders made a huge impact in Sunday's win.

In just six games played this season, Houston now has 8.0 sacks on the year, which leads both the Lions and all NFL rookies.

Hutchinson's half sack gives him 7.5 on the year, good for second place among rookies. He also recorded his third interception of the year and notched his second fumble recovery. He is the first rookie in NFL history to produce a season with at least 7.5 sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He is only the second defensive lineman in NFL history to produce such a season, joining Hall of Famer Richard Dent (1990).

Houston and Hutchinson are the first set of rookie teammates to each log at least 7.0 sacks in a season as Detroit's had three different rookies with a multi-sack game this year, also a franchise record.

"We got a lot of talented rookies on the team," Hutchinson said after the game. "It's a good foundation for us, too. And yeah, man, it's very exciting being out there and being a part of games like that."

While there's still some work to be done improving Detroit's defense this offseason, general manager Brad Holmes has to feel really good about the future of this defensive front with what he's watched from some of his first-year players. The Lions had seven sacks as a team Sunday, the most they've had in a game since 2014. Detroit had as many sacks as the Bears had completions.

"I think that's special. Just having all of us on that line and we just growing," Houston said. "We're just learning and finding out what we can do and can't do with each other. And so, as the years go on I feel like it's just going to keep getting better and better."

Counting all of Detroit's rookies on defense, they combined to record 22 tackles, 6.0 sacks and four tackles for loss against the Bears.


Confident and comfortable. Those were the words Lions quarterback Jared Goff used to describe his current play. He's playing the best stretch of ball in his career and he's a big reason why the Lions could be one win in Green Bay next week away from a playoff berth.

"I think where we're at with our offense right now I'm so comfortable," Goff said after his 255-yard, three touchdown performance Sunday against the Bears. "Ben (Johnson) and I are so much on the same page. Every time he calls a play I know why he's calling it, what the reason is and what defense we're expecting. We're just so much ahead of where we've been in the past."

That's allowing Goff to play freely. He hasn't thrown an interception in 290 pass attempts dating back to Nov. 6 vs. Green Bay. He completed passes to 10 different receivers Sunday as the Lions racked up 504 yards of total offense.

"He's extremely hot," Campbell said of his veteran quarterback. "He's playing at a very high level. He has a ton of confidence right now and he's had this for a while. He's got a real good feel for the game plan. You can just tell it's like he's in this mode right now where you feel like anytime you dial up a pass, he's going to find somebody.

"He's going to find the throw and get it to guy that's open and that's a great feeling. To feel your quarterback is in that mode… is a great feeling."


This is a different and more dynamic offense when veteran running back D’Andre Swift is playing the way he did Sunday as both a running and receiving threat.

Swift rushed for 78 yards on just 11 carries for a 7.1-yard average per carry, including a 17-yard touchdown. Swift also caught all four of his targets for 39 yards with a 21-yard touchdown. The two touchdowns upped Swift's total to eight on the year.

"Swifty came to life," Campbell said. "That's like being out in the desert with nothing to drink and there's that water. It was great to see him just feeling it."

It was Swift's highest rushing total since Week 1 (144) and the first time since the Jacksonville game Week 13 (111) he's notched over 100 total scrimmage yards.

"He's dynamic. He's really dynamic," Goff said of Swift. "We've got a handful of those guys now that you put the ball in their hands, and anything can happen."

Swift and Jamaal Williams combined for 274 yards of offense and three scores. Williams ran for 144 yards.

"I think today Swift went crazy," Williams said of his teammate. "He just had a tremendous game. Proud of him because of the way he works, and he deserves all the chances he gets. I'm just grateful for the way he came out, played for the team, and to get the juice going, the goods going."


Last week it was Shane Zylstra recording three touchdown grabs. Sunday it was Brock Wright catching two Goff touchdown passes. This isn't a big-name tight end group in Detroit, especially after the trading of T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota at the trade deadline, but week in and week out that group finds a way to make an impact on the game.

The two touchdowns by Wright against the Bears were the 11th and 12th of the season from the Lions tight end group, which sets a new franchise record. Hockenson had three touchdowns before being traded to the Vikings. Wright now has four on the year. Zylstra also has four. Rookie James Mitchell has one.

"T.J. is a great player and he's doing tremendous things and he's a tremendous player, but these guys are no slouches either and have stood their own and I think it's a testament to their coaching and just who they are as players," Goff said of the Lions tight end room.

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