Four downs: Lions jump to NFC No. 2 seed

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

First down

While the Lions didn’t gain any cushion in the NFC North race, the team did jump the Seahawks for the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Obviously the focus is the next game, and it’s a tough one with a trip to New York to face the Giants (8-4 entering Sunday), but the Lions now control their destiny for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Green Bay has won three straight and can still claim the NFC North if Detroit stumbles the next two weeks in New York and Dallas. That would set up a winner-take-all game at Ford Field in the final week of the season.

Second down

Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones was held under 100 yards for the ninth consecutive game, but his impact against the Bears was far more significant than the box score indicates.

Jones led the Lions with four receptions for 67 yards, but the receiver drew three penalties totaling 66 yards, with two coming on Detroit’s first touchdown drive.

“He did a tremendous job,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “I just think he really competed. Those two pass interference calls made a huge difference, and then, obviously, the one catch down the field that he had coming back low to the ground. He did a lot of things.”

That catch, a 48-yard reception in the second quarter, saw Jones execute scramble rules as quarterback Matthew Stafford eluded pressure, converting a 3rd-and-16 and setting up a Matt Prater field goal.

Third down

Khyri Thornton had started six of the past seven games, but he was a healthy scratch against the Bears, paving the way for rookie A’Shawn Robinson to get the start.

The Lions defensive tackle rotation has been a turnstile this season. Stefan Charles struggled to crack the lineup early in the season, but has maintained a role. Tyrunn Walker, a starter to open the season, was benched a few weeks back, but has worked his way back into a role. Now Thornton is on the outside looking in.

One thing is clear, Robinson has continued to impress. He had a relatively quiet game on the stat sheet, netting two tackles, but he’s been a disruptive force, particularly batting down passes. He leads the defensive linemen with six.

Fourth down

Rookie running back Dwayne Washington was questionable coming into the game with an ankle injury, and that forced him to the sideline in the fourth quarter, but before it did, he had his most productive game on the ground, gaining 64 yards on 16 carries.

Combined with Zach Zenner, who churned out 36 yards on seven touches, the pair helped the Lions dictate the tempo and control the clock, especially in the second half where they amassed 78 of their 100 yards.