The Detroit Lions hobbled into Denver Sunday missing a chorus of players due to injury or illness. Being down so many starters, however, meant lots of fresh young faces in the lineup, and from that lineup came many bright spots.
Here are your previous game ball winners:
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
Week 10 winner: D’Andre Swift
Week 11 winner: D’Andre Swift
Week 12 winner: Amani Oruwariye
Week 13 winner: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Stats: 11 rushes, 83 yards, 2 receptions, 16 yards
PFF Grade: 84.0
Craig Reynolds did not miss a beat in the 13 weeks in which he didn’t see game action. Reynolds stepped on the field and looked like he was still playing against third-stringers in a preseason game, posting an average of 7.5 yards per carry and finishing the day with 99 total yards from scrimmage, all on just 13 touches.
It wasn’t just his explosive rushes that were getting attention, either. Check out this breakdown of a heads-up play by Reynolds that resulted in just a gain of a yard:
The biggest knock on Reynolds was always that his preseason production came against backups. However, against a top-10 rushing defense, Reynolds put his foot on the gas and didn’t look back. After grading out highest among all running backs in the league in Week 14, I anticipate Reynolds being the runaway winner (pun very much intended) of this week’s game ball, and I look forward to seeing if he can produce a similar performance next week.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Stats: 8 rec, 73 yards
PFF Grade: 71.9
Amon-Ra St. Brown is making another appearance as a game ball finalist just a week after winning it decisively from his performance against the Vikings. St. Brown is really beginning to emerge as one of Goff’s favorite targets, almost in an Anquan Boldin-esque way.
This week, St. Brown continued to get open in space and find a way to get yards after the catch even when it seemed impossible. Considering Jared Goff’s reluctance to look deep, that has been especially valuable in getting the Lions offense to fresh downs, especially when they find themselves in second- or third-and-long situations.
PFF Grade: 91.0
It’s really hard to quantify the performance of an offensive lineman, especially when the most commonly recorded statistic, sacks, is one that goes against them. Luckily, PFF does the rest of the work for us (I was not paid to say that). Sewell graded out as the best tackle in the league in Week 14, including a stellar 93.5 run-blocking grade to pave the way for Craig Reynolds’ coming out party. That earned Sewell PFF’s rookie of the week honors, continuing his streak of stellar games since returning to right tackle.
Stats: 3 receptions, 20 yards, 1 tackle
PFF Grade: 59.0
Brock Wright is by no means putting on a show, but he has proven himself to be a reliable target in recent weeks with T.J. Hockenson injured. Wright is not a star, but he doesn’t make stupid mistakes or waste opportunities. He has stepped in nicely over the last two weeks, hauling in five of eight targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. For an undrafted rookie who didn’t make the roster cut at the end of preseason, he’s come a long way, now operating as TE1. He gets some kudos for that this week in the form of a game ball nomination.
Who’s your pick for this week’s game ball winner?
Who gets the Lions game ball vs. Broncos?
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Amon-Ra St. Brown