Lions make it look easy against Jags

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars play football on the other side of ugly.

So let’s not go overboard after a win against a bad team.

Still, the Lions deserve some credit. They played a great game on the road, thrashing the Jaguars, 31-14.

“We are heating up at the right time,” said Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Clearly, the Jaguars were confused from the start, thinking this was two-hand touch, allowing the Lions to run through their defense with ease, while forgetting little things. Like tackling.

The Lions dominated the line of scrimmage. They dominated on defense. And they dominated in total domination. At one point, the Lions had 171 yards of offense, and Jacksonville had 8.

This wasn’t a game. This was a total mismatch. This was Bruce Springsteen versus the cast from “Glee.” This was “Homeland” versus anything on network television.

“We did it a lot of different ways today,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz, whose team is now 4-4 on the season. “The defense came out and shut them out in the first half and didn’t even allow a first down until midway through the second quarter.”

The Lions controlled the line of scrimmage and built a 21-0 halftime lead — at which point you hoped it would go to a running clock like in high school football blowouts.

Or maybe they could have had the top five players from the Lions take off their pads and sit out like in youth football.

But which five would you make sit out?

Mikel Leshoure, for starters. He scored three touchdowns in the first half, but that’s only because, obviously, Schwartz was starting Leshoure in his fantasy league.

“We saw some air in there and took advantage of it,” Leshoure said. “Our O-line came out with an attitude, and it showed.”

Leshoure got so tuckered out — celebrating his touchdowns — that he was pulled out of the game, and Joique Bell ran 13 times for 73 yards.

Which left Calvin Johnson teasing Leshoure.

“I told him, man, if you were in shape, you would have gotten all 140 or 150 of the yards,” Johnson said, smiling. “I was just fooling with him.”

Now, to be fair, the Jaguars played without several starters. Maurice Jones-Drew sat out with a foot injury, and Jacksonville was also missing a cornerback and a safety.

But injuries should never be an excuse in the NFL. Especially when you consider what Calvin Johnson did in this game, basically playing on one leg.

Johnson has struggled through several injuries this season — a finger, a foot, an ankle, and a knee — not to mention that dreaded Madden Curse. But it was his knee that kept him out of practice last week.

Before the game, Johnson tested his knee by running several routes — and the truth is, it hurt like heck — but he proved that he could play.

“I made my mind up that I was going to play, but it was hurting pretty good,” Johnson said.

The Lions devised a game plan around Johnson’s injury, making him do only those routes that his leg could handle.

Johnson said a prayer, took a couple of painkillers, went into the game and caught seven passes for 129 yards.

“Calvin is a fighter,” Bell said. “If he can go out there on one leg and be productive, he’s going to go out there. We admire that.”

After the game, Johnson talked to the media. In the next locker, Kassim Osgood, a special-team player, offered a secret.

“He had an Energon Cube, and he bit into it, and it gave him extra energy, and he was able to go an extra round,” Osgood said. Johnson nodded his head: “Exactly. Why you tellin’ ’em?”

So to recap: Johnson said a prayer and took a couple of painkillers and chomped into an Energon Cube. (That’s a “Transformers” thing.)

Clearly, he leaves nothing to chance.

As far as the other lingering issue: No, he didn’t score.

Johnson was once again tackled inside the 1-yard line — for the fifth time this year, according to the Lions — frustrating fantasy football owners everywhere.

“He definitely was not feeling 100 percent, you could tell that,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “But the guy battled, had a great game for us.”

So, in the end, the Lions climbed to .500 after eight games. They still have a shot to make the playoffs, though it won’t be easy.

“We are setting ourselves up for something special,” Vanden Bosch said.

Is it certain? Of course not.

But how many times did you write off the Tigers?


Posted by Tribune News Services

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