Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure had a week to remember. The Lions starting running back followed up the birth of his son with a three touchdown performance in the team’s win against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
Sunday’s game marked a new direction for the pass happy Lions. Leshoure and backup running back Joique Bell helped the team rush for 149 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. In eight games this season, 149 is the new game high in rushing yards for the team. In fact, in three of the team’s eight contests, they failed to hit 100 yards on the ground. On the season, the Lions rank 22nd in the NFL with an average of 103.6 rushing yards.
Leshoure stepped up to the plate to help take some of the pressure off of the injured Calvin Johnson. The Lions running back scored three touchdowns in the first half and set a bit of team history. No other running back in Lions history had scored three rushing touchdowns in one quarter of a game. Yes, that means even Barry Sanders never accomplished what Leshoure did in Sunday’s game.
By scoring three touchdowns in one game, Leshoure became the first Lion to accomplish the feat since James Stewart in 2000. Stewart rushed for 116 yards in that game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The former Lions running back went on to rush for 1184 yards on 339 attempts. Stewart’s rushing attempts and yards would end up being career highs for him.
The Lions drafted Leshoure in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. After an injury and suspension, the talented University of Illinois graduate is paying off and helping the Lions establish a running game. On the season, Leshoure now has 375 rushing yards for the Lions.
Along with Leshoure, backup running back Bell continues to get split rushing attempts and passes out of the backfield. Bell had 73 yards and one touchdown in Sunday’s win. The former Wayne State University is the preferred running back in passing situations. The former Division II star continues to impress for the team right down the road from his former university.
With the season half way over for the Lions, it seems essential that they got the running game going. With Leshoure and Bell splitting carries, the Lions have found a way to gain yards on the ground and recently find the end zone. With all the pressure on Matthew Stafford and Johnson, the team can now move the chains the old fashioned way and look to get Johnson and other receivers involved in play actions and single coverage.