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Detroit Lions Unsung Hero of the Week: Justin Coleman brings pressure from the secondary

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Justin Coleman showed up around the ball a lot, and his stellar performance—along with the rest of the secondary— for three and a half quarters kept the Lions in the game.

Detroit Lions v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Lions fell short of expectations Sunday, then the second quarter hit. Darrell Bevell shook off his rust from a year away from play calling, Matthew Stafford got cozy with eighth overall pick T.J. Hockenson, and all was well in the world Detroit.

That smooth sailing led to an 18-point lead and a generous cushion well into the fourth quarter before Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury turned into what we all anticipated they would be through the offseason.

Unfortunately, Murray was able to ignite a Cardinals’ comeback thanks to an exhausted pass rush. Before that fourth-quarter collapse, however, the secondary had a quietly stellar performance.

Unsung hero of the week: Justin Coleman & the secondary

Coleman was all over the field on Sunday—chasing down receivers, chasing down Murray, and everything in between. He played very fine technical coverage on the Cardinals receivers that went a long way to delaying their eventual rally as Murray & Co. got comfortable in the late third/early fourth quarters.

The most important part of the performance, however, was when Coleman’s name (and anyone in the secondary) wasn’t being called.

The biggest surprise of the first three quarters of the game was not the Lions’ offensive explosion, but how Kyler Murray kept finding himself trapped in his own backfield. When one Lion would get to him, he’d spin away right into the arms of another defender. It wasn’t immediate pressure, either—the secondary had Cardinals receivers locked up all afternoon, giving the defensive line the time to find Murray once, twice, and eventually wrap him up, force an incompletion, or send the ball right into Tracy Walker’s hands.

Murray made a name for himself at Oklahoma and won the Heisman with his uncanny ability to extend plays, elude defenders, and find the open man downfield. But the Lions secondary did a tremendous job of sticking with Cardinals receivers as each play dragged on. Darius Slay was on lockdown as always, and Rashaan Melvin exceeded expectations. Coleman quietly had a stellar performance too, staying in airtight coverage on many of Murray’s downfield throws and playing a pivotal role in saving the Lions from a potential loss.