The first area of need the Lions addressed was the non-existent run game they had last season. Reggie Bush was their apparent answer to the situation from last season in which their leading back averaged just 3.7 yards per carry.
Bush has spent the previous two seasons as the Miami Dolphins‘ starting back and with substantial success, he earned himself another starting job with the Lions.
His role in the Lions’ win this Sunday was substantial as he ran the ball 21 times for 90 yards, earning himself a respectable 4.3 yards per carry average. His impact on the game wasn’t limited to just the ground game, as he was the team’s leading receiver as well with four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Bush played a huge role on offense and should be credited with more than just the one touchdown he scored, as he was used often in the open field, and was then subbed out for the bigger Joique Bell inside the 10-yard line. Bush, however, was only one of the three newcomers who had a significant role in the Lions’ victory.
First-round pick Ziggy Ansah played left defensive end on Sunday, and was forced to match up with the Vikings’ Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Kalil. Ansah however, impressed with his pass-rushing skill and ability to get around Kalil. He was very fast coming off the snap and showed quite a bit of strength in backing Kalil towards the pocket.
What helped the Lions the most on defense was the three interceptions they forced Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to throw, but it was the continual pressure of the defensive line and Ansah, who recorded half a sack, that put the pressure on Ponder, initially forcing him to make a bad decision.
The run game for the Vikings was almost invisible after their first play of the game, when Adrian Peterson ripped off a 78-yard touchdown run thanks to the play of the entire Lions defensive line.
After Peterson torched the Lions early, he was held in check and only gained 15 yards on his other 17 rushing attempts thanks to Ansah and the rest of the defensive line.
Joseph Fauria, an undrafted rookie tight end of the Lions, is another newcomer to the team who impacted their game against the Vikings. Fauria saw plenty of action in the game and even caught three passes, one of which resulted in a touchdown.
The normal starting tight end for the Lions is Brandon Pettigrew, but because of some two-tight end sets the Lions used, Fauria was able to make a contribution on offense.
The Lions look stronger than last season, and if this game is an indication of how their season will go, they won’t be in the cellar of the NFC North anymore.