Aidan Hutchinson’s man was open in the right flat and for a brief moment Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields believed his coach’s wacky plan to turn the Bears –Lions game into a track meet might work.
The Bears trailed 24-10 with seven seconds remaining in the first half. The play called for Fields to hit tight end Cole Kmet in the right flat, and Kmet would lateral to Fields, hoping to break a big play before the gun.
But Air Hutchinson soared through the friendly skies at Ford Field and snagged the pass. Aiden Island was open again as the rookie defensive end recorded his third interception of the year. His play officially ended any chance for the Bears to turn this game into a circus.
The Bears were listless, appeared tired and were choked out by the Lions in the second half after this play. Players knew they were screwed when defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn sent 11 men into coverage. Hutchinson finished off the half with his pick.
He is not paid to intercept passes but Hutchinson is tied for the team lead with three picks. Aidan is also second on the team with 7.5 sacks and has 26 solo tackles. He probably won’t win NFL Rookie of the Year. It appears as if New York Jets corner back Sauce Gardiner is a shoe in.
Hutchinson might not be the NFL’s top rookie. But he is the NFL’s top rookie for the Lions. He became the first rookie defensive lineman to record three or more picks, and is the first defensive lineman since Richard Dent recorded three for the Chicago Bears in 1990.
“It’s crazy,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve never touched the ball this much, balls on the ground, balls in the air, I feel like I’ve got a chance. It’s fun and crazy to hear that stat, but I’m just out there doing my thing.”
The offense is the romance of football. It is what we pay most attention to. But if this experiment called the Detroit Lions under Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes is to work it will be because of ball hawking defenders like Hutchinson, James Houston, Josh Paschal and Malcolm Rodriguez. They are young guns with a cause.
They are all explosive and disruptive who are in different stages of deaccelerating their rockets and slow the game down to a more manageable pace. For instance, Hutchinson tracked down Fields because he did not rush the quarterback like a bat out of hell. Instead, he held his base and used a slower pace to flush him out of the pocket and make an important tackle.
They played a pivotal role in the Lions (8-8) turning around yet another dismal season into a possible winner take all match race next week for the final wild card spot. Seattle must lose, of course, for that to happen.
There is another valuable lesson here, called patience. How many of you doubted Hutchinson early in the season when his first sack was tardy to the party? How many believed Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux had a better shot at the sack king crown?
Hutchinson is no longer question. Instead, he seems destined to lead this team for a long time. The Billy Jean routine we saw in Hard Knocks was more than a song and dance routine. Teammate’s reaction showed he’d already been accepted and respected.
It only gets better from this point.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)