Detroit Lions defensive end Aiden Hutchinson is the NFL rookie of the year as we head into the annual Thanksgiving clash against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field.
Hutchinson is making winning plays in big moments that have led to Lions victories. He’s doing what was asked of him and that is to sack the quarterback. He leads all rookies with 5.5 sacks and he seems to get better with each game.
I was absolutely thrilled when the Lions drafted Hutchinson with the second pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Admittedly, I was a big Hutchinson fan when he played at Michigan. Furthermore, he is still my all-time favorite Michigan football player. However, Hutchinson had some early season struggles and the Lions started the season 1-6. I was very concerned with both the Lions and Hutchinson.
Hutchinson is on a roll now. In addition to the 5.5 sacks he has as many interceptions (2) as star rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets. More importantly Hutch has played a major role in all four of the Lions wins.
Let’s break them down.
Aidan Hutchinson vs. Washington
In week 2, the Detroit Lions beat the Washington Commanders. In the first half, Hutchinson had three sacks. His sacks played a major role in the Lions building a 22-0 halftime lead. There were tense moments but the Lions hung on for a 36-27 victory.
Aidan Hutchinson vs. Green Bay
In week 9, the Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers. With the score tied at 0, the Green Bay Packers faced a 4th and goal from the Lions 1-yard line. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers rolled right and attempted a throwback to David Bakhtiari who appeared to be open in the end zone. However, Hutchinson read the play and intercepted the pass at the goal line to keep the game scoreless. Furthermore, that goal line interception played a huge role in holding the Green Bay Packers to nine points in a 15-9 Lions victory.
Hutchinson at Chicago
Hutchinson was all over the field during a week 10 victory over the Bears. He had eight tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit. Furthermore, his sack came at the most important time. With the Lions up 31-30 late in the 4th quarter, the Bears had the ball with a chance to drive down the field and kick a game winning field goal. Facing a 2nd and 10 from the Bears 30-yard line, Bears quarterback Justin Fields dropped back to throw. However, Hutchinson sacked Justin Fields to force the Bears into a third and 15. The Bears turned the ball over on downs. As a result, the Lions were able to hang on.
Hutchinson at New York
The story of the week 10 victory over the New York Giants was winning the turnover battle. Hutchinson played a huge role in two of the turnovers. With the Lions trailing 6-3 and the Giants in possession, Hutchinson dropped into coverage and intercepted a Daniel Jones pass and returned it to the Giants 18-yard line. The Lions scored a touchdown three plays later to take a 10-6 lead. They went on to score 21 unanswered points to take a 24-6 lead.
The Giants scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to cut the Lions lead to 24-12. The Giants were then able to force a Lions punt and got the ball back with a chance to make it a one score game. New York had the ball at their own 36-yard line with a first and 10. However, Lions DB Will Harris forced an Isaiah Hodgins fumble, which was recovered by none other than Aidan Hutchinson. Furthermore, the Lions were then able to drive down on a short field and score a touchdown to go up 31-12 and put the game out of reach. The Lions held on for a 31-18 victory. Hutchinson was a big reason for that win.
(AP Photo/John Munson)