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Lions-Dolphins Unsung Hero of the Week: Big man makes big plays

In a shootout that featured a number of stars on the ground and through the air, it’s important not to forget this big man’s performance.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s performance was quite the spectacle from the Lions offense. Everyone from Kenny Golladay to Golden Tate to Michael Roberts had their highlights. To top it off, the Lions ran the ball the best they have in almost 30 years. Even the offensive line put on a show, as Miami media members noticed:

Lost in all the fireworks from the offense was some solid defensive play. Not everything was pretty: there were missed assignments, some poor tackling angles, and plays where the coverage was a step behind. For every one of those, however, it seemed like there was an equal and opposite good play, which brings us to our unsung hero of the week.

Unsung hero of the week: DL Ricky Jean Francois

For this week’s winner, unsung may not be the right word—RJF made a lot of noise in the Dolphins’ backfield on Sunday. He gets this week’s award, however, for two reasons. The first is because of the massive amount of attention on the offense and the stellar performance of Kerryon Johnson. The second is that while RJF had an outstanding day, he did it in a way in which he wasn’t expected to do.

Francois is a big bodied man, your typical run-stuffing nose tackle. His two vicious sacks were a pleasant surprise. Most defensive lineman of his build will have five or six sacks in a good season; for a man of his size and his age to put on that kind of a show is unheard of.

His two sacks weren’t huge swings in momentum, but they ended up playing a very important role in the remainder of the game. While the Lions defense wasn’t giving Dolphins running back Frank Gore much room to operate, Gore was doing what he does best: making the most out of nothing. Coming off a stellar performance against the Bears, it was key that the Lions shut him down.

Francois’ sacks aided in that tremendously, as it stalled the Dolphins on the early drives and allowed the Lions to jump out to a quick lead. With the Dolphins playing from down multiple scores as soon as the first quarter, the ball was in the hands of questionable decision-maker Brock Osweiler much more frequently than it was Frank Gore for the rest of the game.

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