It was an ugly showing Sunday, continuing the tune through four games of glamorous single-half performances by the Detroit Lions. It’s not a surprise, but still stings. Fortunately, a good second half means there are game ball candidates, because the first half was looking like my job would be very hard this week.
Before we get into this week’s Game Ball candidates, here are your winners for the season thus far.
Week 1 Game Ball winner: Penei Sewell
Week 2 winner: T.J. Hockenson
Week 3 winner: D’Andre Swift
Here are your candidates for this week.
Stats: 4 catches, 83 yards
PFF grade: 72.9
Cephus continued his rise Sunday as he has through four games this season. By no means is he Jared Goff’s favorite target, but Cephus makes the most of his opportunities and often finds himself well downfield when targeted. It’s been an inconsistent showing, but that’s likely a combination of Cephus’ tendency to be open downfield and Goff’s reluctance to throw downfield.
Nonetheless, Cephus continues to take steps forward, as his 83 yards Sunday matched his season total through three games prior. He’s far from a regular downfield threat, but in a season where the receiving corps is a ragtag unit and there is no viable downfield threat, it’s been a treat to see the sophomore receiver step into that role.
Stats: 3 catches, 46 yards, 2 touchdowns
PFF grade: 66.7
Raymond, like Cephus, has really stepped up when given the opportunity. He may not be a star receiver, but for a guy who was picked up off the street with a long shot at making the roster, he’s certainly exceeded expectations.
For reference, Raymond had 369 yards in 35 career games prior to coming to Detroit. In four games with the Lions, he has matched almost half of that total, now at 182 yards on the season.
Let’s not forget the most important stat on the day: Raymond produced both of the Lions’ touchdowns Sunday in a game that looked like it could’ve easily turned into a shutout. Not bad, Kalif.
Pre-snap motion with Kalif Raymond sets up the DB thinking he was staying in to block off Swift, instead Raymond leaks out for the catch and strong YAC to scorepic.twitter.com/qF5yKQ3DOs— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) October 3, 2021
Stats: 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
PFF grade: 41.2
Charles Harris could take the rest of the season off and already have exceeded expectations for 2021. He’s having a very Kerry Hyder-esque ascension on the defense, having now posted a sack in three of the Lions’ four games. With Romeo Okwara out for the season, Harris may just be the Lions’ best edge rusher now.
Harris’ sack on Sunday was especially critical as he forced a fumble that the Chicago Bears would recover, but not before being set up for a whopping third-and-32. That play almost singlehandedly kept the Lions in the game late when the Bears’ offense was otherwise rolling. Charles Harris, have a day.
Stats: 6 tackles, 1 interception
PFF Grade: 55.2
Given the current state of this team, any forced turnover puts you in immediate contention for the game ball. When you now have all two of the defense’s interceptions on the season, you’re definitely going to be in contention for the game ball.
That’s already ✌️ interceptions for Amani Oruwariye this season pic.twitter.com/7zHu2K6OMa— Onward State (@OnwardState) October 3, 2021
To be fair, Oruwariye did get called for pass interference and give up a catch on a crucial Bears conversion late in the game, but frankly he’s at the bottom of the list of important Lions players who slipped up this week. A turnover is a turnover, and that’s a lot more than most players contributed today.
I also want to give honorable mention to Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who made that interception possible by tipping the ball. He had an otherwise quiet day, but the special teams ace having a positive presence on defense is a step in the right direction.
Stats: 14 carries, 66 yards (4.7 YPC)
PFF grade: 89.5
On a day in which D’Andre Swift didn’t look like his true self, Jamaal Williams was more than happy to pick up the slack. Getting his fourth start in a row, Williams gave the Lions’ offense life in the first half and was primarily responsible for all the team’s red zone trips on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Williams’, the team’s inability to convert their red-zone opportunities and the defense’s poor performance against a bad Bears offense had this team down 21 points early in the second half. As a result, the Lions only called Williams’ number twice in the final two quarters. Otherwise, Williams had a legit chance to crack 100 yards in this game, which is no easy task in Chicago.
For the season, Williams is averaging a career-high 4.5 yards per carry.
Who’s your pick for game ball winner this week?
Who gets the game ball against the Bears?
This poll is closed