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TWENTYMAN: As game slows down for Hutchinson, his potential is off the charts

Two weeks in a row now rookie defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson has had huge impact plays that made the difference in Detroit winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2020.

He had an interception off Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the end zone Week 9 after recognizing a trick tackle pass, reading the play and picking off an underthrown ball.

Fast forward one week and arguably the biggest play in Detroit's 31-30 win on the road in Chicago Week 10 was cornerback Jeff Okudah's fourth-quarter pick-six off Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

On the play Hutchinson made a terrific read of the release on the backside of Cole Kmet for a tight end screen which forced a high and late throw by Fields right into Okudah's hands.

"They were throwing a delayed tight end screen on the backside and I kind of stopped, Justin (Fields) kind of hesitated and the pressure was coming and he kind of threw it," Hutchinson said after the game of the play. "Jeff was behind me, and I threw a little block for Jeff, and we got the touchdown."

It's that kind of recognition and spatial awareness that shows the game is slowing down for the No. 2 overall pick. He's seeing the whole field and becoming a playmaker beyond just being a pass rusher.

"He's a pretty instinctive player and he picks up things pretty fast," Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Hutchinson on Monday. "I can still remember the first two days of spring practice out here. We had him run with the ones and we threw three screens at him within the first plays, and he was just sprinting at the quarterback, and it was gimmies.

"Just to see where he's come from there, he's figuring it out. He is very instinctive."

Hutchinson set a career high with eight tackles against Chicago. He had a critical sack late in the game on a 2nd and 10 play where he played bully ball with the right tackle to force a 3rd and 15 and an eventual turnover on downs two plays later. He also made a highlight-reel tackle earlier in the game when he flew down the line of scrimmage and wrangled Bears running back David Montgomery down at the goal line.

We're seeing a young player like Hutchinson grow right in front of our eyes the last two weeks. As physically gifted as Hutchinson is and with the game now slowing down for him, his potential as a consistent playmaker is off the charts.

"We are learning how to finish," Hutchinson said Sunday. "That's the moral of the story. I think we are making progress."

So is Hutchinson.

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