Detroit Lions Grit is what this city and team needed, the defensive line is the epitome of the slogan.
Much like the entirety of the Lions team, the defensive line has rapidly improved.
With a 34-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit absolutely stuffed the line of scrimmage over-and-over.
Four different Lions sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins four times. Outside of Jerry Jacobs’ first career sack, the rest were all completed by the defensive line.
Aidan Hutchinson acquired his seventh sack of the season to go along with two tackles for losses. Hutchinson was a force on the edge for Detroit. Minnesota’s offensive line was no match for the rookie as he collapsed the pocket all game.
Not far behind Hutchinson was another rookie in James Houston. He got his fourth sack of the season continuing his inspiring play. The sixth round pick played his third game in the NFL against Minnesota. He’s gotten a sack in every game he’s played.
It’s not a fluke stretch either for Houston. When he comes off the edge he is able to contort his body around lineman with a low-center of gravity. Houston’s move is extremely hard for opposing lineman to stop. He’s proven he belongs in the NFL, despite his limited snap count. He’s winning at an improbable rate and is a problem for opposing teams.
Defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs added a sack-fumble for the Lions as well. That play saved the Lions from a Vikings score at a critical time before halftime.
“I thought two of the biggest plays were, Isaiah Buggs, the sack-fumble right before halftime that Kerby got…,” said Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell after the game.
His parter Alim McNeil was a force too. Even though he didn’t get a sack but, both him and Buggs were able to stuff running lanes with ease. Also with John Cominsky back in the fold, he requires attention from the offensive line.
The Detroit Lions held the Vikings to just 22 total rushing yards when they typically average 100 yard rushing per-game. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota’s star rusher) was rendered useless. As a result Cook finished with 23 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
Minnesota’s run game never established so they had to rely on the pass.
There’s been a change in mentality for the Lions in the past six weeks. Because of that the amount of emotional expression on the field has increased. Most visible was Hutchinson and the defensive line.
They were able to disrupt plenty of pass plays for Minnesota. The more that they’ve been an effective front, the more that their confidence will grow. Like anything in life, confidence is key for success.
That momentum is huge for young players like Hutchinson, Houston and McNeil. For a player like Buggs, who didn’t get many snaps in Pittsburgh, it shows that he can bring immense value to his position.
With the Lions sitting at 6-7 they still have a ways to go to make it into the playoffs. Conversely, if their defensive line continues to play like they have it’d be big help to reach that goal.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya – Associated Press
Photo Edit: Noah Wulbrecht – Woodward Sports