Four downs: Roberts’ return gives Lions boost

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

First down

After drawing criticism for his underwhelming performance returning kicks and punts the first three games, Andre Roberts gave the Lions late life with an 85-yard punt return for touchdown.

Roberts fielded the boot on the left side of the field, made the first man miss, escaped the grasp of two other defenders before finding open space to his right and turning on the jets. It was his first career punt return and second special teams touchdown.

“The guy has ability, if we get some guys blocked he can make some things happen,” coach Jim Caldwell said.

There were still some blocking issues when it came to kickoffs, and Roberts was stopped short of the 25-yard line on two of his three efforts, but the big punt return should earn give him a longer leash with the return job.

Second down

Kerry Hyder has been one of the few bright spots for the Lions this season. The young defensive end continued to rack up the sacks, dropping Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer behind the line of scrimmage in the second quarter.

Hyder has five sacks on the season and has recorded at least one in each of Detroit’s first four games. No one else on the roster has more than 11/2.

“It just means go back to work,” Hyder said about his personal success. “Feels good, but it doesn’t matter. I should’ve done more.”

The Lions are desperately missing Ziggy Ansah, who has been sidelined all but three plays the past three games with a high ankle sprain.

Third down

Rookie running back Dwayne Washington suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter, after his second carry, and wasn’t able to return. That paved the way for Zach Zenner to get his first touches of the season.

Things didn’t start off well for Zenner, who was dropped for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line when the Lions failed to account for blitzing linebacker John Timu.

But on Detroit’s ensuing possession, Zenner flashed some of the skills that made him a fan favorite last preseason. The second-year back took a little dump-off pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford, racing down the sideline for a 22-yard pickup. On the next play, Zenner gained 10 yards on the ground.

Even if Washington gets cleared for next Sunday’s game against the Eagles, the Lions need to find a way to get Zenner more involved, even if it’s just a couple carries each half.

Fourth down

During a change of possession in the fourth quarter, a protestor ran on the field dressed in a gorilla costume. He showed a surprising amount of elusiveness, juking past security guards and weaving through players approximately 60 yards before sliding down and giving himself up.

Given the Lions’ inability to move the ball much of the game, maybe they should bring the guy in for a tryout. Well, after he gets out of jail.