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Run defense still hurting

The Lions' defense of late has faced a number of heavy hitters at the running back position — Minnesota's Dalvin Cook, Giants' second-year back Saquon Barkley — and Sunday's 31-24 loss in Oakland was no different. 

Rookie Josh Jacobs carried the ball 28 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Oakland's win, allowing the Raiders' offense to sustain long drives that almost always ended in points. Oakland's five scoring possessions lasted an average of 9.6 plays and it finished with a 5:40 advantage in time of possession, as the Raiders exhausted Detroit's defense until their final drive.

Mixed bag for D-line

There were some positives to take from this game on the defensive side of the ball, though, and it starts with the uptick in production from Damon Harrison and Trey Flowers. Harrison, a national darling for his renowned ability to stop the run who's been criticized for his lack of effectiveness during the 2019 campaign, tied his season-high with six tackles. A week after his first two-sack performance of the season, Flowers came up with a third-down sack of Derek Carr in the fourth quarter that would help keep the Lions in the game.

The unfortunate news for the Lions' defensive line, however, is that Da'Shawn Hand left Sunday's game just one week after grading out as the team's second-best defensive player, according to Pro Football Focus, in his season debut against the Giants last week.  

Backfield not a problem

Even with the news that second-year running back Kerryon Johnson (knee) wouldn't be back in uniform until at least Week 16, the Lions stood pat through Tuesday's trade deadline, opting not to make a move for popular options like Miami's Kenyan Drake, who had 162 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown in his debut with Arizona, or Chargers back Melvin Gordon, who stayed put in Los Angeles.

A game later, the Lions' offense continued to fire at high efficiency even without their 2018 second-round pick out of Auburn.

Ty Johnson became slightly less productive as Sunday's game went on, finishing with just an average of just 3.2 yards per carry, but J.D. McKissic showed flashes of shake-and-bake capability, taking four carries for a total of 32 yards and catching three passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

And then, of course, the stars: Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. were brilliant again for Detroit. Each receiver caught a touchdown pass, with Golladay pulling in four receptions for 132 yards and Jones eight for 126. Even T.J. Hockenson got back in the mix, posting 56 yards on three receptions for his most productive day in the passing game since Week 1 at Arizona. Matthew Stafford had some uncharacteristic misfires in the second half on Sunday, but his 406 yards and three touchdowns on 26-for-41 passing was almost enough to cover up the Lions' lack of a serious running threat. 

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.

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