“I don’t really know how I caught that ball to be honest with you,” said Quin with a few pauses as he attempted to articulate the play. “Grace of God I tell you. I stuck my hand out there, felt it touch it, I tipped it to myself, I don’t know. I had to look at it, it was a tipped ball, thought I had overran it, I thought he had tipped it behind me, I stuck my hand out there and it just worked out perfectly. I don’t know, man.”
Quin become a crucial cog in the Lions defense, a unit that has ranked among the league’s best all season – surprising many.
“We do have two guys, Quin, I think with the fifth interception this year is maybe the most he’s had, I think. He’s up there somewhere. He and Dig (James Ihedigbo) do a nice job for us,” said head coach Jim Caldwell.
Quin came to Detroit, relatively quietly, as a free-agent acquisition from the Houston Texans in 2013.
Perhaps the reason Quin flew under the radar prior to coming to Detroit was simply that he was never provided a true opportunity to play the position he’s currently occupying in Detroit – free safety.
Now that he’s healthy, Quin has been able to do what he does best, read, react and make plays.
“I would say this is the first year that I’ve been able to play true safety and be healthy. Last year, I played safety but after week 4 I was 60 percent,” said Quin. “If you remember, in the first four weeks last year, I had two interceptions. Once I got hurt, it was tough.
“Then, my years in Houston, I was playing safety and I had just moved to safety. On third downs, well in passing situations, I was moving down to play more linebacker. I wasn’t having a lot of opportunities to sit back, play centerfield, read the quarterback, play half-field and make some breaks on the ball. I was more so man-to-man, back turned to the ball. This is the first year I’ve had this opportunity and it’s going well so far. Hopefully I can get a couple more.”
Offensive Line Improves
The Detroit Lions struggles on offense this season have been well documented.
The team was expected to be among the league’s most productive offensive units heading into the year, instead they entered this week ranked as a bottom-10 scoring team – even after scoring 34 points a week ago.
Much of the mediocrity could be pinned on an underachieving offensive line, which had allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to be sacked 35 times and hit 69 times heading into this week’s contest against the Buccaneers.
Overall, the unit has taken noticeable strides the last two weeks. Which has been evident in both the passing and running game.
“I’m proud of those guys up front,” said Stafford. “I mean, when we really needed it, to go out there and put the game away running the football, we hand the ball off on the first play and pop a big one. It changes the whole game as far as sealing it. You felt great at that point that we were going to win the game.”
At the core of the progress has been offensive guard Rob Sims. He has made strides, along with his teammates, to move past the early-season struggles – which included a difficulty picking up stunts from the opposing defensive line.
“I think, earlier in the year, especially myself getting beat on some stuff, being a professional is being able to put that fire out, we just figured it out in practice,” said Sims. “Go back and look at the film, we’re very objective, we’re very real with ourselves. We just say ‘OK, this is something we need to fix’ and we go and fix it.”
Sims, a leader on the unit, has improved his play greatly over the last couple of weeks. He’s had some key blocks, including the one that sprung Joique Bell for the aforementioned 57-yard run that helped seal the game.
“My birthday was yesterday, I’m a year older, I’m 31 now,” said Sims. “At the end of the day, I still feel like I got a lot of miles still left on me. I feel like I still help this team, it’s fun when they hit the whole the right way.”