Sunday was an important game for Detroit Lions second-year running back D’Andre Swift.
Not just because he rushed for 130 yards, which was his second career 100-yard rushing performance and his first since his rookie season, but Sunday's game in Pittsburgh showed Swift can carry the load in the running game if asked to do so.
Before Sunday, Swift's biggest impact had been in the passing game. He entered Week 10 leading all NFL running backs in receptions and receiving yards, but had rushed for more than 50 yards in just one game this season. He was averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
With Jamaal Williams out for a second consecutive game due to a thigh injury, weather conditions nasty in Pittsburgh, and quarterback Jared Goff suffering a strained oblique in the first quarter, head coach Dan Campbell turned to Swift to lead the offense.
Swift carried the ball a career-high 33 times for 130 rushing yards, which was also a career high. He ran outside the tackles and between them. He showed power and elusiveness. Most importantly, Swift showed he's more than a space player or pass-catching back. Sunday's game in Pittsburgh showed that Swift can be anything the Lions want him to be as a running back.
"Listen, Swifty I thought had a big game, man," Campbell said after Sunday's 16-16 tie with the Steelers. "He did some really good things in the run game. We know he's been pretty dynamic in the pass game for us, able to do a few things.
"But, man, to see him – and you could feel it early. I had a feeling he was – first couple of runs, man, he kind of had that look. And so just being able to give him the ball. I think this will be big for him."
Pittsburgh's defense entered Sunday's contest ranked in the top half of the NFL against the run, allowing on average 109.8 yards per game. They are a physical unit that's built to stop the run, playing in the AFC North against the likes of Baltimore and Cleveland twice a year. Detroit rushed for 229 yards as a team Sunday.
For Swift, to have that kind of game against that opponent should give him and the Lions a ton of confidence moving forward that he's a back who can play any role the Lions can come up with for him.
Swift joked after the game that he was a little sore carrying the ball so many times, but it's a feeling Swift will certainly appreciate. It's the result of proving he can be a lead back and carry the load when he needs to.