Lions streaking but still struggling on defense

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
The Lions' Kerry Hyder pressures Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins but not before he gets the ball off in the second quarter.

Allen Park – Despite a win over Washington, the Detroit Lions’ defense continued to struggle. Timely turnovers, plus a missed field goal, helped the team mitigate the damage, but the fact remains, the group is allowing too many sustained drives and too many third-down conversions.

Excluding the game’s final possession – two desperation deep shots and a frantic lateral play -- Detroit didn’t force a single three-and-out. Washington recorded at least two first downs each possession and converted on 60 percent of the team’s third downs.

But there was a silver lining to the performance. For the first time in weeks, the Lions generated a consistent pass rush, netting two sacks, six quarterback hits and four hurries.

Part of the impact came from blitzing more often. The Lions brought an extra pass rusher on 14 of Washington’s 41 drop backs.  Safety Rafael Bush recorded his first career sack, coming off the right edge.

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Lions coach Jim Caldwell also credited the presence of Ziggy Ansah, playing in his second game since returning from an ankle injury.

“Make no mistake, 94 (Ansah) makes a difference,” Caldwell said. “You look at things differently when he’s on the field.”

After a quiet performance last week against Los Angeles, Ansah hit Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins three times.