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Unsung hero of the week: Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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A player who has been a bit of a letdown in recent weeks stepped up Friday night for a quietly good performance.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions secured their first win of the preseason Friday night, which means it’s time for our first post-win award for unsung hero of the week. The series highlights one player whose performance, be it throughout the whole game or in a single moment, played an important role in the Lions’ success but may not have been the most memorable. While there are some games where only so many players shine, the objective is to give credit where it may have been forgotten.

Unsung hero of the week: Jake Rudock

Jake Rudock’s future (or lack thereof) with the Lions is, unfortunately, fairly certain by now. Last week, Rudock’s inability to take advantage of a last-chance opportunity to work with the first team offense just about cemented Matt Cassel as the Lions’ backup quarterback. That was reaffirmed this week when Rudock didn’t play until the fourth quarter.

When he did enter the game, however, Rudock made the most of it. He looked confident and in control of the offense, even daring to look towards middle and deep routes. On the second-to-last offensive drive of the game Rudock displayed some uncharacteristically nice touch on his passes, most notably on a rainbow to Brian Brown from across the field that fell out of Brown’s fingertips in tight coverage. After Brandon Powell’s 80-yard punt return touchdown, Rudock then tossed a perfectly timed lob to Brown in the corner of the endzone for the 2-point conversion, but an ill-timed jump rendered Brown unable to come down with it once again.

On the final offensive series, Rudock again commanded the offense in a very un-Rudock-like fashion. The offense drove 60 yards down the field in 2:40 for the go-ahead score, with Rudock going 8-of-9 and getting everyone from Powell to Marcus Lucas to Dwayne Washington involved. Most notably, Rudock kept the drive alive with under a minute left when he scrambled for a first down on third-and-1 from inside the red zone.

While it may be too little too late for Rudock, it sure was nice to see him look comfortable and commanding for a change. His game-winning drive, although not exactly pressed for time, came largely out of the hurry up and was a stark contrast to how Rudock looked in two-minute drills during joint practices last week.

The reason Rudock is the recipient of this week’s award for unsung hero of the week is not because of himself, however—Rudock’s ability to run a no huddle offense against third stringers should not be a question. The importance of it is that he provides opportunities for other players; being on target and keeping drives alive by scrambling offers targets to those on the roster bubble or those looking to impress other teams once inevitably cut in the coming weeks. At the end of the day, if the writing is on the wall, then he’s doing himself as much help as he is other backups by looking sharp late in the game.

Whose performance from Friday night do you think was overlooked? Let us know in the comments.