Lions' Ansah sees uptick in double teams

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah recorded just one stop in the backfield in Sunday's 39-35 win over the Colts.

Allen Park – With 14.5 sacks in his third season, Ziggy Ansah established himself as one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers.

He also raised expectations.

Ansah had a quiet day, both on the stat sheet and on film against the Colts. He recorded a stop in the backfield, cleaning up a teammate’s blown tackle to drop running back Josh Ferguson for a 2-yard loss. Ansah also assisted on another tackle against the run.

But rushing the passer, Ansah was largely ineffective, in part because of a concerted effort by the Colts to slow him down. Working 25 passing plays, Ansah rushed the quarterback 24 times and was either double-teamed or chipped by a tight end or running back nine of those plays. On five others, the Colts threw a quick pass, before a defensive end could reasonably impact the throw.

That left Ansah blocked by one man 10 times, where he was able to hit quarterback Andrew Luck twice and narrowly missed a sack as the Luck rolled out at the last moment to avoid having his feet swept out from under him.

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“I think they did a good job in terms of when they were taking shots they were maxing it up, they’d have seven guys in there (blocking) and they were chipping,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “They did a lot of good things in terms of protection to make sure their quarterback didn’t get hit. Couple times we had a few free runners and didn’t get them down.”

Ansah wouldn’t call the performance a disappointment, not in light of his team coming away with the roller-coaster 39-35 victory on the road. He also wasn’t certain if the increased number of double teams would be his new normal.

“It was just Game 1, you know?” Ansah said. “Tough to say.”

It wasn’t just Ansah who struggled to get to Luck. The team recorded just two sacks, both by backup Kerry Hyder.

“Oh man, I was fired up on the sideline,” Ansah said. “He’s come a long way. He comes to work with purpose and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Ansah will look to record his first sack this week against the Titans, who will trot out a pair of first-round offensive tackles for the matchup. The Titans kept pass-rush pressure to a minimum against the Vikings in their opener, allowing just two sacks and two quarterback hits.

Twitter: @justin_rogers