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Lions’ line takes blame for rancid rush game

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions running back Dwayne Washington looks for a hole in the Giants' line but finds none, being brought down by Damon Harrison in the first quarter.

East Rutherford, N.J. – The Detroit Lions knew the best chance to beat the New York Giants in inclement conditions was to effectively run the ball. And things start out with such promise. 

Quarterback Matthew Stafford handed the ball to Dwayne Washington on the team’s first offensive snap and the rookie rumbled for 12 yards. They went back to the well on the second play for a modest, but effective gain of four.

After that, things fell apart. The Lions’ ground game was about as effective as banging your head into a brick wall. The Lions finished with 56 rushing yards on 19 carries for a 2.9-yard average.

Washington carried the ball 12 more times, but gained only 15 yards. Backup Zach Zenner didn’t get a touch until the second quarter, but when he did, he plowed forward seven yards then fumbled. He finished with three carries for 12 yards.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t regret the team’s decision to stick with the run game, despite its struggles, he bemoaned the execution.

“I think in this particularly ballgame, we had to try to manufacture a run and try to get some yards there,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think you can be too patient in that situation, particularly with a team that can rush the passer. We were hoping to find a few more cracks, but we didn’t quite get as many as we would’ve liked.”


Four downs: Caldwell should have challenged Beckham's ‘catch’

The offensive linemen typically avoid commenting on a performance immediately after a game, deferring until they can review the film. But after the loss to the Giants, guard Larry Warford said there were far too many breakdowns from his group.

“The line, we just shot ourselves in the foot,” Warford said. “Our technique was off. We didn’t stay within our fundamentals, myself included. I don’t think I played well. That was the story of the game. It was nothing they did, we did it to ourselves.”

Roberts alert

A rule that bit the Lions earlier this season came back to help them against the Giants.

When Robbie Gould’s kickoff landed and died near the sideline to open the second half, Lions return man Andre Roberts made sure to get a foot out of bounds before touching the ball. The strange rule makes the kickoff out of bounds, moving the ball out to the 40-yard line.

Earlier this season, Green Bay Packers return man Ty Montgomery used the rule against the Lions, laying down with his feet on the sideline to touch a kickoff.

No go for Riddick

The Lions held out a sliver of hope Theo Riddick could play against the Giants, listing him as doubtful on Friday's injury report. But his injured wrist didn't show enough improvement over the weekend and the starting running back was scratched for a second consecutive week.

Also inactive for the Lions were offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas, defensive tackle Stefan Charles, center Travis Swanson (concussion), wide receiver TJ Jones, quarterback Jake Rudock and Lemonier.