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5 Detroit Lions game ball candidates vs. Vikings

A look at the five best Lions performances from Week 9.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

There weren’t many things that went right for the Detroit Lions in their Week 9 contest with the Minnesota Vikings. The defense was downright embarrassed. The offense failed to capitalize on every opportunity they were given. And if we’re being downright honest, Detroit was outcoached for all four quarters.

But as I have forced myself to do every single week, this article is devoted to pointing out the positive. Each week, I try my hardest to find the five best individual performances from the Lions, and nominate them for the weekly Game Ball.

From there, it’s up to you. Your vote decides the first, second and third place for the Game Ball award, and those players get weekly points (3, 2 and 1, respectively). Each week, I will update the leaderboard to see which players have been the best, consistent performers.

Here’s a look at the standings thus far.

Game Ball standings through Week 8:

Jack Fox: 9
D’Andre Swift: 4
Jamie Collins Sr.: 4
Romeo Okwara: 4
T.J. Hockenson: 4
Matthew Stafford: 3
Frank Ragnow: 3
Adrian Peterson: 3
Marvin Hall: 3
Kenny Golladay: 2
Matt Nelson: 2

Here are this week’s candidates:

Desmond Trufant

Stats: 6 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
PFF grade: 73.4

Desmond Trufant finally looked like the player the Lions thought they were getting after signing him this offseason. In just his third game of the season, Trufant was the only Lions defensive back to notch a pass defended on Sunday, and he also picked up a sack on a well-disguised blitz. Per PFF, Trufant allowed just one catch on the day—a measly 8-yard gain.

T.J. Hockenson

Stats: 5 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD
PFF grade: 71.1

Hockenson now has a touchdown catch in four of his last five games and has at least four catches in all but two contests this season.

He’s not blowing away opponents like he did in the season opener in 2019, and Detroit isn’t using him as a George Kittle, 10-targets-a-week type. However, he’s easily been Detroit’s most consistent offensive weapon. He also currently ranks sixth among all NFL tight ends in receiving yards (360) and only two tight ends (Travis Kelce, Jonnu Smith) have more receiving touchdowns (5).

Taylor Decker

Stats: N/A
PFF grade: 79.9

It’s about time we gave some love to Taylor Decker. The man still has not given up a single sack in 2020, and against the Vikings he didn’t give up a single pressure.

Some may have thought that Detroit overpaid for their left tackle, but Decker is quietly proving them wrong every single week this year. Right now, he current ranks as the NFL’s sixth-best offensive tackle per PFF.

Kerryon Johnson

Stats: 4 carries, 29 yards (7.3 YPC); 3 catches, 36 yards
PFF grade: 68.4

While D’Andre Swift had the better statistical game, he also had a couple of bad drops. Kerryon Johnson, on the other hand, made a case for an uptick in playing time. On Sunday, he had 25 snaps, and turned them into 65 yards on seven touches. That’s a very efficient day, and it doesn’t even touch his value as a pass blocker.

Johnson is slowly putting together a case that he should be on the field more often—perhaps splitting time with Swift alone. Or maybe, just maybe, consider putting both out there every now and then.

Austin Bryant

Stats: 2 tackles, 1 blocked punt
PFF grade: 58.8

When you block a punt in your first game back from injury, you get put on the Game Ball list.


Who gets the Lions’ Week 9 Game Ball?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Desmond Trufant
    (100 votes)
  • 11%
    T.J. Hockenson
    (56 votes)
  • 38%
    Taylor Decker
    (189 votes)
  • 7%
    Kerryon Johnson
    (38 votes)
  • 21%
    Austin Bryant
    (106 votes)
489 votes total Vote Now

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.