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Monday, September 23, 2013
Upon Further Review: Lions Week 3

By Michael Rothstein

A review of four hot issues from the Detroit Lions' 27-20 win over the Washington Redskins:

Playing for first: It may still be September and the season is still less than a quarter of the way complete, but Detroit has something to play for this Sunday against Chicago -- first place in the NFC North and a 3-1 September record. These are both important because the Lions start October by heading to Green Bay, a place they haven’t won in a long, long time. At least a split over the next two games could go a long way toward a potential playoff push.

Joique Bell
Running back Joique Bell more than held his own in his first NFL start.
No more Washington streak: The players and coaches continued saying after Sunday’s win that ending the forever losing streak in Washington did not really matter and maybe that’s the point for this Detroit team. Maybe it is why this particular Lions team was able to avoid what had been a typical Lions collapse of the past and hold on to beat the Redskins for the first time in the Washington, D.C., metro area. It is just one of a host of storylines Detroit is trying to eliminate by the end of this season -- and getting one out of the way could be a confidence boost.

Running back depth: Detroit always seemed confident with its running back depth behind starter Reggie Bush, but the Lions got a better idea of what their offense could look like if they were to lose Bush for any portion of time the rest of the year. Joique Bell received his first career NFL start and played well enough to be a decent dual threat. Bell ran strong, often not going down on the first hit. His yards per carry wasn’t great -- 3.2 yards a rush -- but he gained 63 yards rushing and also 69 yards receiving, so the 132 total yards is decent production for a player making a spot start. Detroit has good news, too, because Bush declared after Sunday’s game he would be ready to play against Chicago this weekend. The Lions will need him for this two-game stretch against the Bears and Packers.

Strong defensive line play: There was never really much question that if Detroit’s defensive line could stay healthy, it might be one of the best units in the NFL. Through three weeks -- and even with a season-ending injury to Jason Jones on Sunday -- the Lions’ defensive line has been dominant. That starts with Ndamukong Suh. He may not be putting up huge numbers, but he is consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The play of ends Willie Young and Ziggy Ansah has been the biggest benefit for the Detroit defensive line, as both have shown good speed on the edges and the ability to get to the quarterback. They have combined for 3.5 sacks in the first three games and many more quarterback hurries.