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5 candidates for Detroit Lions Week 7 game ball

Vote for which Detroit Lions player you think is most deserving of the Week 7 game ball.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions had the ball with eight and a half minutes remaining in the game, down 10-6, and were driving. Despite multiple errors on offense throughout the day, the defense kept them in the game and had given them a chance for a go-ahead score. The offense would turn the ball over on all three of their remaining possessions, quite literally fumbling away the Lions' best defensive effort on the season, losing the game 24-6.

The Lions' defensive play was highlighted by their youngest talent, with several first-, second-, and third-year players making the biggest impacts.

“I looked out there at one point,” coach Dan Campbell said in his post-game press conference. “And there’s Hutch (Aidan Hutchinson), there’s (Josh) Paschal, there’s (Malcolm) Rodriguez, there’s Kerby (Joseph), there’s AJ Parker, there’s Mac (Alim McNeill), you know. You’re looking at how young this defense is, and that's encouraging because that is really the nucleus and core of our team. And I think those guys are going to be pretty good football players, and every week are getting a little bit better. So that’s good.”

Jeff Okudah, CB

Okudah didn’t get a mention as one of the Lions' “young” players but that’s probably because he carries himself like a veteran—despite this only being his 16th NFL game. But don't let the above exclusion fool you, Campbell did make a point of acknowledging how well he played in Sunday’s game.

“He played really well,” Campbell said. “That was encouraging. I tell you what, he had his best week so practice this week and that was his best game.”

Okudah was flying all around the field in run support and in coverage. When the Cowboys would shift their offense away from Okudah’s side of the formation, instead of traveling with the top receiver—as he had done most of the season—Okudah stayed home and dropped to the linebacker level. When the Cowboys ran in his direction, he did exactly what the Lions ask their linebackers to do, get downhill fast, fill their gap, and make a tackle.

Okudah finished the day with a team-leading 15 tackles, 12 of them were solo tackles—both career-highs—, a tackle for loss, and drew two holding penalties.

Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE

As anticipated, the Lions shifted Hutchinson to the rush end in this game and he immediately made an impact. On the Cowboys' first possession, Hutchinson (and Anzalone) got home on third down for a drive-ending sack. After the Cowboys won the toss and asked for the ball, to go three-and-out set the tone for the day.

In the second half, the Cowboys had the ball and the lead, but Hutchinson once again showed up and got them off the field on third down.

Hutchinson now has 4.5 sacks on the year.

Josh Paschal, EDGE

One of the big reasons the Lions were afforded the opportunity to shift Hutchinson was the return of Paschal, who stepped into the starting big defensive end role. He also was moving bodies and making an immediate impact, especially against the run.

“Yeah, it’s good to have him,” Campbell said. “He’s an explosive player, he’s got versatility, and he’s got a high motor. And he’s smart. He made a couple of rookie errors out there, but you knew he would in his first game, but he also popped. He flashed in there. It was very encouraging. Very encouraging (because) there is a lot of room for him to grow.”

Paschal officially registered just two tackles on the day, but he was collapsing run lanes all day. It’s easy to see his appeal and why the Lions aggressively went after him in the draft.

Kerby Joseph, S

Joseph is really settling in as a starter. Joseph showed the range to drop into a high zone as well as into the slot to man-up a receiver—something that allowed Okudah to stay home and be effective in his role.

After a near interception—that ended up as a pass deflection—Joseph made a superb play in the red zone, torpedoing Cowboys’ receiver Noah Brown and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Amani Oruwariye.

Per the Lions PR department, Joseph is the first Lions rookie safety to force a fumble since 2006. Joseph would finish the day with four tackles, a pass deflection, a quarterback hit, and a forced fumble.

Kalif Raymond, WR

After a five-turnover day, all coming in the second half, it’s hard to find a bright spot on offense, but Raymond really stepped up his game against the Cowboys.

“Leaf was going to play a lot anyway,” Campbell said. “But we had to move him around (after Amon-Ra St. Brown left the game with a concussion).”

Used in a variety of ways—as a receiver, on screens, and even as a runner—Raymond amassed five receptions on six targets for 75 yards, as well as two rushes for 20 yards, and he did not turn the ball over. Not earth-shattering numbers, but he was the best player on offense in this game.

Alright, time to vote:


Who deserves the Lions Week 7 Game Ball?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Jeff Okudah
    (1562 votes)
  • 12%
    Aidan Hutchinson
    (243 votes)
  • 5%
    Josh Paschal
    (112 votes)
  • 2%
    Kerby Joseph
    (55 votes)
  • 0%
    Kalif Raymond
    (16 votes)
1988 votes total Vote Now

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