The Detroit Lions may not have beat the Baltimore Ravens, but they sure looked like they could hang with them. Just a record-breaking field goal away from walking into Week 4 with one of the biggest upsets of the year, several Lions played out of their mind on Sunday, giving the team a real shot at their first win of the season.
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
Alright, let’s take a closer look at the five best individual performances from Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the Ravens.
Stats: 4 tackles, 1.0 sacks
PFF grade: 77.3
For the first time in Okwara’s career, he played 100 percent of the Lions’ defensive snaps, and he showed absolutely no signs of fatigue in the fourth quarter when he was giving Lamar Jackson hell. Per PFF, he was credited with five hurries and a sack on the day. He also remains very stout as a run defender, setting that edge to force both running backs and Jackson inside the pocket.
Stats: 14 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD; 7 catches, 60 yards
PFF grade: 82.1
When the Lions found their offense stuck in neutral after the first half, the game plan changed in the third quarter. Swift became the centerpiece of the offense and it clearly worked. In the second half alone, Swift caught six passes for 56 yards, and suddenly the offense was unstoppable. Oh, and he hurdled another guy this week for what should have been his second touchdown of the day:
Stats: 4 tackles, 1 INT
PFF grade: 79.5
The Lions are desperately looking for playmakers in their secondary after the unit has been depleted by injuries. It appears they may have their guy in 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye. Oruwariye was targeted only twice on Sunday, allowing two catches for 14 yards according to PFF. He tabbed an interception on a play that wasn’t even targeting his guy, showing great situational awareness and getting the team’s first pick of the year. That pick led to the Lions’ go-ahead score and what should have been the game-winner.
Stats: 6 catches, 68 yards
PFF grade: 68.4
The Lions’ wide receiving corps is bad right now, but when the team needed a few clutch plays—specifically on their last offensive drive—it was Kalif Raymond who stepped up and made a few huge plays. Raymond picked up 19 yards on this nicely-adjusted catch that crossed the Lions into Ravens territory, and then he channeled his inner Golden Tate with this wide receiver screen that put Detroit in chip-shot field goal range.
Stats: 1 QB hit
PFF grade: 91.7
Okwara only logged 10 snaps in this game, but he made the absolute most out of each one. On nine pass rushes, he logged four pressures, including this huge one on second down of the Ravens’ final drive which forced a Lamar Jackson incompletion. Watch him bowl over the Ravens’ right guard with ease.
My goodness this rush from J Okwara over the RG. pic.twitter.com/mKHEAK2vJ6— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 26, 2021
And on the very next play, he slid by the right guard and nearly sacked Jackson again:
Very next play. This is what the lions need moving forward. Gotta finish though. pic.twitter.com/GTlI8zUzg6— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 26, 2021
He may have been technically kept off the stat sheet, but when you managed to do this on just 10 snaps, the playing time is coming for Julian, and that’s a big reason to get excited.
Who should get the Week 3 game ball?
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