Lions' Blount shoulders rushing load, blame in defeat

By Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
Bears' Kyle Fuller (23) upends Lions running back LeGarrette Blount during Thursday's game.

Detroit — Lions running back LeGarrette Blount was quick to take part of the blame in Thursday’s 23-16 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Chicago Bears.

On this day, though, Blount was the lone bright spot for Detroit’s sputtering offense, which was without wide receiver Marvin Jones and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson.  

Blount trotted for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the Turkey Day clash, setting season highs in yardage and touches. But he said the bounce-back performance wasn’t good enough to take away from the sting of Detroit’s holiday loss.

“I ain’t running good enough. We lost,” Blount said. “You gotta take the luck out of the game… we didn’t do that.”

The ninth-year back attributed Detroit’s disappointing offensive showing to its inability to play “complementary” football.

“We’re turning the ball over, we’re not finishing drives,” Blount said. “We’re stalling inside the 5 and not getting six (points) instead of three. There’s a plethora of things… that can be said about why we didn’t come out on top.”

One of those moments came with a little over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, when the Lions failed to take the lead deep in Chicago territory. Lions coach Matt Patricia turned away from Blount’s hot hand and opted to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line.

Blount said he had “100-percent confidence” that the Lions would have reached the end zone, but didn’t oppose Patricia’s decision to take the points and tie the game.

“I think he probably played the percentages more than anything,” Blount said.

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The Lions’ frequent usage of Blount played a part in his effectiveness down the stretch.

He rushed for eight yards on five carries in the first half, mirroring his seven-carry, 1-yard performance in Sunday’s win over Carolina, then came out strong in the second half and averaged 5.7 yards per carry in the last two quarters.

Running back Theo Riddick said as the game went on, the physical nature of Blount's game wore down the league’s top run defense.

“He was making excellent reads, and had really good eyes, really good feet,” Riddick said.

“When you can do that at his size, a lot of guys aren’t going to want to tackle you all four quarters, so he (started) to weather them down and you started to see that.”

Blount’s longest carry of the day was a 27-yard run that moved the Lions into Chicago territory when they were trailing 23-16 late in the fourth quarter. Detroit wound up reaching the 11-yard line before a miscommunication between quarterback Matthew Stafford and second-year tight end Michael Roberts resulted in an interception that iced the game for the Bears.

Blount was reluctant to talk in any sort of specific manner about why things are going south for the Lions in critical moments.

“I don't think it's anyone's individual fault. A play-caller calls plays, but we have to go out there and execute the plays,” Blount said, referencing offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

“Whether we’re doing it right or whether we’re doing it wrong, people may not know but he does and we do."

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.