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4 game ball candidates for the Lions Week 15 win over the Jets

Identifying the top candidates for the Detroit Lions game ball vs. the New York Jets in Week 15.

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Jets Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have now won six of their last seven games, are an even 7-7 on the season, and are firmly in the hunt for a chance at the playoffs.

This was easily the ugliest win of the Lions’ recent streak, but with every win comes a lesson, and the lesson here is that when the pressure was on, they found a way to win on the road against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

And that brings us to our first game ball candidate.

Brock Wright

Stat line: 1 reception, 51-yards, game-winning touchdown

Down 17-13, with just one timeout remaining, the Lions were on a gotta-have-it drive. Jared Goff had not looked Wright's way all game, but to open up the drive, he threw a pretty ball right to him and Wright dropped it.

Not an ideal start to the drive. But Goff knew he could trust in his tight end, and five plays later, when it was fourth-and-inches from their own 49-yard line, Wright's number was called again.

The play was one that they had executed before. Wright lines up inline and blocks down on the defensive end. After a quick bump where Wright sells the crap out of it, he disengages and releases laterally across the field. With the Lions other skill players occupying the Jets’ defense, Wright worked through the trash and was running free into the flat.

The design was simple, and since it worked before, the Lions figured they’d get the first down and, if they were lucky, a nice chunk of yards. But when Wright got moving, his athleticism took over, and he became a big target that was going to be a load to bring down. With some nice interference by the Lions receivers—namely Josh Reynolds—Wright took it 51 yards for the game-winning score.

Learning how to win is important, and when it mattered, Wright came through.

Kalif Raymond

Stat line: 5 receptions on 6 targets for 53 yards, 47-yard punt return for a touchdown

“He’s getting the game ball,” coach Dan Campbell said following the win. “He’s our iron man. He does everything for us. He’s been there through some of the injuries we’ve had at receiver, and he’s just been there every day, for every game, for every practice. He just goes. And he’s selfless, he’s disciplined, he’s a hard worker, he’s smart, he’s productive, he endears himself to his teammates, and he’s versatile.”

One of the most impactful ways Raymond has been making noise is as a punt returner. Over the last several weeks, Raymond had been on the verge of breaking a punt return open—he had two 35+ yards returns in the previous three weeks—and against the Jets, he finally found a seam and returned one to the house. This was his first career punt return for a touchdown.

Against the Jets, he wasn’t just valuable as a returner. He also was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, only trialing Amon-Ra St. Brown in each category.

James Houston

Stat line: 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits

Houston has now expanded his sack streak to four games, recording his fifth sack on the season in the first quarter against the Jets. Per the Lions' PR, this is the first time in team history that a rookie has recorded a sack in each of his first four games, and it’s just the fourth time this has happened in NFL history.

Houston may not have recorded a tackle for the remainder of the game, but the pressures were there, and he did deliver a few more hits on the quarterback. He doesn’t need to be a complete player at this stage of his career, he just needs to be good at one thing, and man is he good at it.

Romeo Okwara

Stat line: 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits

Like most players returning from injury, Romeo Okwara’s first game back (against the Vikings) was relatively uneventful as he was reacclimating to the game. But he was able to cut it loose a bit more against the Jets and the production followed.

“It means a lot to have Romeo back,” Campbell said post-game. “Just to have him in the fold with us. First of all, he’s an unbelievable locker room guy, he’s a hard worker, and then on top of that, to have his length—look, he plays the run well, he can rush the passer, you can work him on a guard inside, you can work him on a tackle outside. So, yeah, he was better than he was last week. He’s gotten a little bit better (each week), and there’s some things that really showed up today, and I expect him to be even better next week.”

Alright, time to vote:

Poll

Who gets the Lions’ Week 15 game ball?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Brock Wright
    (538 votes)
  • 65%
    Kalif Raymond
    (2113 votes)
  • 2%
    James Houston
    (82 votes)
  • 15%
    Romeo Okwara
    (507 votes)
3240 votes total Vote Now

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