It’s always hard to hand out a game ball during a loss, but this week feels especially tough, and not just because of the blowout score. A lot of the players who made positive impacts on this game also made huge mistakes that ended up costing the team.
For example, let’s look at Danny Shelton. The Lions veteran defensive tackle was the highest-graded Lions defender on Sunday per PFF. However, he is not on this week’s candidate list because of his unnecessary roughness penalty after the whistle proved to be one of the more costly mistakes of the game.
But before we get into this week’s candidates, here are your Game Ball leaders through six games.
Game Ball standings through Week 7:
Jack Fox: 7
D’Andre Swift: 4
Jamie Collins Sr.: 4
Romeo Okwara: 4
Matthew Stafford: 3
Frank Ragnow: 3
Adrian Peterson: 3
T.J. Hockenson: 3
Kenny Golladay: 2
Matt Nelson: 2
Here’s a look at this week’s candidates.
Stats: 7 catches, 65 yards
PFF grade: 71.9
Hockenson had another consistent game on Sunday against the Colts. Leading the team with 10 targets, the Lions tight end turned that into seven catches, 65 yards and four first downs (two of which were third-down conversions).
For the season, Hockenson is now tied for seventh among all NFL tight ends in receiving yard (321) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (4). This was his fifth game out of seven where he crossed the 50-yard threshold, which just goes to show you how consistently dangerous he’s been every week.
Stats: 4 catches, 113 yards
PFF grade: 78.5
With Kenny Golladay out of this game wearly, Marvin Hall reminded fans why he was such a big play threat last year. Sure, his final statline is boosted by a ridiculous 73-yard bomb, but that’s exactly what you’re getting in Marvin Hall: A guy who can stretch the defense vertically and actually create some separation.
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
PFF grade: 58.1
This is more of a group nomination for the Lions’ entire defensive line. They were again able to stop the Colts’ running game in its tracks early in this game. Given that Indianapolis’ offensive line features two All Pros right there in the middle in Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly, no one had a more difficult assignment than Penisini on Sunday.
And while his statline and PFF grades are both underwhelming, he also did this to Kelly:
I would’ve nominated Danny Shelton, who was fantastic against the run, but that personal foul penalty was devastating. Da’Shawn Hand also deserves some praise, but Penisini deserved a little more love this week, if for no other reason than the degree of difficulty for a sixth-round rookie.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Stats: 3 catches, 39 yards, 2 TDs
PFF grade: 65.9
Marvin Jones continued to reiterate that Xavier Rhodes is, indeed, his son. It wasn’t a completely dominant performance from Jones Jr., but any time you can get in the endzone twice, it’s a good day.
And just in case you were wondering, Rhodes scored a PFF grade of just 49.8 in the game.
Stats: 5 punts, 52.4 average
PFF punting grade: 67.3
it wasn’t a great day for long snapper Don Muhlbach, but Jack Fox did a tremendous job negating that. On the very first punt of the game, the ball skidded on its way to Fox, and while it took a couple moments for Fox to get it settled, he showed tremendous poise on the play by booting that ball 55 yards down field while under pressure—and with enough hangtime to prevent any return.
Currently, Jack Fox remains the leading punter in total average (53.2) and net average (47.6). Remember, the record net average for a punter in a single season is 46.0. Just nine games left...
Who gets the Lions’ Week 8 game ball?
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Marvin Jones Jr.