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6 Detroit Lions game ball candidates vs. Steelers

Which player deserves the game ball for Sunday?

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

A tie is a tie, no matter how ugly it gets. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times by now, it’s not a loss. There were plenty of bright spots to discuss from the Detroit Lions’ contest with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but before we do that, 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
Week 7 winner: Dave Fipp
Week 8 winner: T.J. Hockenson

Let’s get started.

Godwin Igwebuike

Stats: 2 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD
PFF Grade: 93.9

Talk about making the most of your snaps — Godwin Igwebuike got just four total snaps on offense against the Steelers and turned them into a 42-yard touchdown run and a 14-yard gain. The converted safety continues to defy expectations and prove himself worth a larger share of playing time on offense week after week.

Unfortunately, Igwebuike only got two carries on the day, but he has surely earned a few more, especially if Jermar Jefferson is going to miss time with his injury.

Penei Sewell

Stats: 0 pressures, 0 sacks
PFF Grade: 72.9

The rookie is really turning things around after a rough start to the season, and props to him for doing so. While most of us thought it was in large part due to his switch to the left side, a successful flip to right tackle this past Sunday tells us it’s likely just due to getting comfortable as he plays more.

Sewell kept Goff totally clean on Sunday, proving my bold prediction of the week woefully wrong. I anticipated he would struggle, but he didn’t budge at all, notably against the league’s best pass rusher in T.J. Watt. Props to Sewell for making the successful transition and for being a part of the absolute mauling unit that paved the way for running backs Sunday.

Mark Gilbert

Stats: 3 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended
PFF Grade: 83.3

Talk about getting thrown into the fire. Mark Gilbert is another rookie UDFA corner holding it down in the Lions secondary alongside Jerry Jacobs and A.J. Parker. Gilbert was signed off of the Steelers practice squad just over a month ago and saw his first game action with 30 snaps Sunday after Jacobs went down with an injury.

The Steelers receiving corps is no joke to make your debut against (even if quarterback Mason Rudolph is). Gilbert gave up two receptions on four targets for 42 yards, but one of those two receptions was a 39-yard catch in overtime by Diontae Johnson where Gilbert recovered to force a fumble. Props to him for keeping the game alive in spite of his one mishap on the day.

Jermar Jefferson

Stats: 3 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD

PFF Grade: 84.7

I don’t think any of expected to see Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson as the two highest-graded Lions after this game, but Jermar Jefferson comes in second behind Igwebuike with a very similar performance on offense.

From our Erik Schlitt’s game recap:

That 28-yard touchdown was the Lions’ longest touchdown run since 2013—that is, until Igwebuike broke off a 42-yard touchdown, the first of his career. This run was the Lions’ longest rushing touchdown on the road since Barry Sanders did it in 1997, per the Lions’ PR department.

Jefferson made the most of the stellar run-blocking in his limited snap count. Unfortunately for Jefferson, he more than likely would have picked up more carries throughout the rest of the game had it not been for him being carted off due to an injury on his long touchdown run.

Tracy Walker

Stats: 7 tackles

PFF Grade: 76.5

Walker continued to make his presence known on Sunday, laying the hammer on several Steelers throughout the game. Unfortunately, Walker sustained a concussion on a hit to Mason Rudolph, but early indications are that Walker shouldn’t have to miss extended time. There’s not much to say other than that the TV microphones picked up the thump of a few of Walker’s tackles, which is pretty impressive.

D’Andre Swift

Stats: 33 carries, 130 yards; 3 catches, 5 yards
PFF grade: 52.5

Though PFF didn’t seem to like his performance, it’s hard to ignore how much of an impact Swift had on this game. He deserves praise simply for being a workhorse back for the first time in his NFL career, and for the first three quarters he was incredibly efficient at it. He doubled his career high in rushing attempts for a single NFL game, and proved he can run between the tackles.

Who’s your pick for this week’s game ball winner?

Poll

Who gets the game ball against the Steelers?

  • 11%
    Godwin Igwebuike
    (113 votes)
  • 2%
    Jermar Jefferson
    (29 votes)
  • 7%
    Mark Gilbert
    (75 votes)
  • 26%
    Penei Sewell
    (259 votes)
  • 6%
    Tracy Walker
    (60 votes)
  • 45%
    D’Andre Swift
    (444 votes)
980 votes total Vote Now