Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down the Detroit Lions’ 36-27 win over the Washington Commanders, and looks at the players who helped and hurt their stock Sunday at Ford Field.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: Lions coach Dan Campbell called St. Brown “a pitbull that plays receiver,” and that description seems apt after the second-year wideout had another huge game Sunday. St. Brown caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, including a back-breaking 11-yard score with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. He had a 58-yard rush on an end-around (and another 10-yard run). And he tied the NFL record for most consecutive games (eight) with at least eight catches. Already one of the steadiest, most dependable receivers in the NFL, he’s amazing he lasted till the fourth round of last year’s draft.
SHAWN WINDSOR:Amon-Ra St. Brown leading what could be best Lions offense in years
CARLOS MONARREZ:Ain’t no party like Aidan Hutchinson’s sack party for Lions in win
BY Aidan Hutchinson: Hutchinson earned mixed reviews for his play in Week 1, when the Philadelphia Eagles used his aggressive play against him in their quarterback run game. Hutchinson answered Sunday the way a No. 2 overall pick should, with three sacks among six tackles. Hutchinson was the beneficiary of improved play by his teammates. Charles Harris gifted Hutchinson one sack with a good pass rush, and Hutchinson got a second courtesy of a Chris Board pressure. But after three near-misses last week, Hutchinson’s ability to finish got the Lions off to the hot start they needed Sunday.
OL Dan Skipper: A career journeyman who estimated he has signed 20 contracts in his six-year NFL career, Skipper was more than just a feel-good story Sunday — he played well in his first career start, and first game at left guard since college. The Lions played without three-fifths of their starting offensive line and still managed 191 yards rushing. Skipper and center Evan Brown deserve partial credit for that, and Skipper’s solid performance could eventually earn him a promotion from the practice squad.
RB D’Andre Swift: The Lions challenged Swift to play through injury after he missed four games with a sprained shoulder last season, and Swift did that in impressive fashion Sunday. He was not as involved in the offense as he was in last week’s career-best 144-yard rushing day, but he still totaled 87 yards from scrimmage on seven touches. Swift had a 50-yard run in the first quarter (and 6 yards on his other four carries), and his 22-yard touchdown in the second half, when he fell to the ground while making the catch, got up and weaved his way downfield, turned momentum back the Lions’ way at a crucial point in the game.
OG Logan Stenberg: Stenberg made his second straight start at right guard in place of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and had some rough moments in pass protection. He slid left in protection on one of Washington’s three sacks and gave Daron Payne a clear path to quarterback Jared Goff, and he got steamrolled by Donovan Jeter on another play when Goff got drilled as he threw. Skipper’s play gives the Lions another option on their line, and new addition Kayode Awosika is best suited to play right guard, so Stenberg’s leash as a starter is a short one.
ON THE LINE:Despite injuries, Lions offense puts on a clinic in Week 2 win over Washington
WR DJ Chark: The Lions have a lot of offensive weapons, and some are going to have days like Chark did Sunday when he had no catches on four targets and dropped one pass. Chark did have a key block on Swift’s 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter — the second straight week he has made a big block downfield. So he is contributing in ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. But two games in, Chark has made a minimal impact as a pass catcher (four receptions, 54 yards) and still seems to be finding his rhythm with Goff.