Things got a little funky for the Detroit Lions on Sunday, in a good way in the beginning of the game and in a bad way as the game came to a close. On the bright side it was quite fun, and we had some stellar performances on every side of the ball. That’s good news for game ball as we have plenty of worthy names to choose from this week.
Here are the current game ball standings:
Week 1 Game Ball winner: Penei Sewell
Week 2 winner: T.J. Hockenson
Week 3 winner: D’Andre Swift
Week 4 winner: Kalif Raymond
Week 5 winner: Tracy Walker
Week 6 winner: Derrick Barnes
Let’s get started.
Stats: 2/2 on fake punt calls, 1/1 on onside kick calls, and a 4/4 field goal unit
This one’s a bit out of the ordinary; I have yet to pull any shenanigans this far in the season but I must do so now. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp deserves a lot of credit for this game. Jack Fox quarterbacked well, C.J. Moore ran the ball well, and Austin Seibert kicked the ball well, and those are all testaments to the job Fipp has done.
It’s easy for Dan Campbell to get all the credit for making the exotic special teams calls in Sunday’s game, but the execution was impeccable. Here’s what Sean McVay had to say about the two successful fake punts:
Sean McVay says Lions’ onside kick and fake punts didn’t catch LA off-guard. They were even in punt coverage formations to prevent a fake. But Detroit just outexecuted them. Huge credit to Dan Campbell and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) October 24, 2021
That’s on top of the fact that the Lions had their first (and second!) successful fake punts since 2014. It’s been seven years. That was back in Sam Martin’s early days, the year when Jim Caldwell got spicy and called two fake punts against the Miami Dolphins.
Credit to Dave Fipp for making sure his team is prepared and ready to execute on Sunday. If any of those three plays go wrong, the Lions look foolish and don’t keep the game close.
Stats: 6 catches, 115 yards
PFF Grade: 75.1
It’s crazy to think that Kalif Raymond can put up this stat line and possibly not win game ball. Raymond continues to blow expectations way out of the water, clearly emerging as the team’s number one wide receiver in recent weeks.
In all fairness, that’s not saying much given the state of the Lions’ wide receivers unit, but here’s some context that puts it into perspective:
A stat that seems to have gone unnoticed:— John Whiticar (@Whiticar) October 25, 2021
Kalif Raymond: 6 catches, 115 yards
Every other WR: 1 catch, 3 yards
That's honestly incredible.
Stats: 7 tackles
PFF Grade: 77.0
Anzalone finishes Week 7 as the Lions’ highest graded defender. He is continuing his strong wave of improvement since the departure of Jamie Collins, and it’s not just in the run game.
When targeting #Lions LB Alex Anzalone in coverage this season:— Brandon Olsen (@WNS_Brandon) October 25, 2021
152.3 passer rating
36.1 passer rating
You’d have a higher passer rating spiking the ball every down.
In the run game, however, Anzalone has been equally stout, and it showed Sunday when he lowered his pads to stop the Rams on a critical third-and-1 to keep the Lions in the game.
Anzalone has stepped up considerably and it’s making a night-and-day difference when it comes to holding together the middle of the defense as well as ushering in rookie Derrick Barnes, and it’s a big reason why the defense has been much better in recent weeks.
PFF Grade: 81.1
Penei Sewell has quietly rebounded from a rough patch around Weeks 4 and 5, remaining stout on the left side in recent games. That was especially important Sunday when facing one of the most menacing defensive fronts in the league led by Aaron Donald.
He wasn’t perfect in the passing game but the run game is where he really shined, paving the way for Jamaal Williams to average 4.8 yards per carry. Sewell also gets bonus points for getting all up in Aaron Donald’s face, an ambitious thing to do as the league’s youngest player.
Sewell still has some things to clean up with his set points & hands on an island (Lewis got him with a filthy cross-chop), but he is consistently showing a lot of what made him a special prospect & did again in Week 7. pic.twitter.com/EF94VIjqAG— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 25, 2021
Stats: 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup
PFF Grade: 71.8
Julian Okwara made an appearance on this list last week and is back again with an even stronger case. Not bad for a guy who we weren’t sure would survive the regime change.
Sunday was Okwara’s biggest role yet and he certainly stepped up to the plate. His highlight on the day actually came in coverage, finding himself out of place due to play action on a Rams fourth-and-short but hustling back into coverage to (accidentally?) cause a deflection to give the ball back to the Lions. Of course, he also stayed busy on the ground, and that included a sack on Matthew Stafford.
Who’s your pick for Week 7 game ball?
Who gets the game ball against the Rams?
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