Abdullah and Bell shine, except for one slip-up each
The Lions had their second-best rushing performance of the season with 150 yards in Monday's win over the Saints, but a pair of fumbles marred the otherwise strong ground attack.
Running backs Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell each put the ball on the ground once in the game. The Saints recovered Abdullah's fumble, the Lions recovered Bell's, but both players were frustrated with the error after the game.
"Even with the win, it's always in the back of your mind," Bell said of his fumble. "My first one all year. I kind of prided myself on holding onto the ball."
Meanwhile, Abdullah fumbled for the fifth time this season, and after the Saints recovered, they scored a touchdown that cut the Lions' lead to 28-20 in the fourth quarter.
In the game, Abdullah had 77 yards on nine carries, including a 15-yard touchdown. Bell had 71 yards on eight carries, with a 1-yard touchdown. The yardage and yards per carry were season highs for both players.
"They did a nice job," coach Jim Caldwell said. "Both guys ran it well, made some big plays for us."
But, the fumbles made it harder to praise the running backs as much as Caldwell might for similar performances.
"Obviously, you lose ballgames that way," he said.
Unlike in previous games, Lions coaches didn't bench the players after their fumbles, and both Bell and Abdullah had a long run after the miscues.
On the drive after Abdullah fumbled, the Lions gave him the ball on third-and-1, and he took an outside pitch 27 yards, his second-longest run of the season.
"Kicking yourself because you feel like you put the defense in a bad situation, which I did," Abdullah said of the fumble. "I'm just glad that they called my number again to make up for it."
Bell's fumble came later in the drive where Abdullah had the long run, but right tackle Michael Ola recovered it. Two plays later, Bell scored his touchdown, and on the Lions' final drive, he added a 36-yard run, his longest of the year.
"I think we just clicked as an offense," Bell said. "The O-line did a great job opening up the holes, and coaches made some great calls in the run game. And they stuck with it today, and they were aggressive with the run."