The Detroit Lions did something on Sunday that they had not done in 74 years when they went on the road and defeated the Washington Redskins 27-20. It was the second longest streak of its kind, and yet another monkey the Lions have gotten off of their back over the last few seasons. The biggest part of the story though, may be the fact that the Lions still haven’t reached their offensive peak.
When a team has a player like Calvin Johnson on its roster, you come to expect a potent passing attack, but when other receivers are making plays and the running backs are making a contribution, Detroit’s offense becomes nearly unstoppable.
On Sunday, the Lions gained more than 450 offensive yards, 385 yards coming off of the arm of Mathew Stafford who connected with Johnson and veteran wideout Nate Burleson for a combined 231 yards. Add back-up running back Joique Bell’s contribution of 132 total yards and you have a recipe for success.
Still, this is just the tip of the offensive-juggernaut iceberg in Detroit.
The team’s biggest move during the offseason was bringing in Reggie Bush to solidify their backfield and he watched the game from the sideline. Joique Bell played well in the star running back’s absence, but having Bush on the field opens up the offense in ways Bell does not. Detroit likes to use both backs, and when Bell and Bush are both available, the passing attack becomes nearly impossible to defend.
Having two guys go over the century mark in receiving yards is fantastic, but Stafford could have done so much more. The fifth-year quarterback was 25 of 42 with two touchdowns and an interception. It is a nice line, but Stafford rushed several plays, threw off of his back foot on several others and made several other mental mistakes that kept his unit from pulling away from a stuttering Redskins offense.
The first-overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, Stafford signed a monster contract extension before the season began, and now must earn his big payday. What he has done since coming to the Lions cannot be understated. The Lions were the worst team in the NFL, and had been for a very long time. He has shown his toughness, his strong arm and his will to win. He has been a major part of bringing Detroit back from football irrelevance.
Stafford can make this team even better, and he will as the season moves on and the offensive unit gels. Sunday was a glimpse of what they will be able to do, but it was nothing more than that. It was a great win for the city of Detroit, but the best is yet to come.