(DETROIT) - With the Lions win yesterday over the Arizona Cardinals, they stayed alive for a possible wild-card playoff berth, just one game behind the St. Louis Rams who occupy what would be the last playoff spot in the NFC at 6-6.
Detroit's opportunistic defense took advantage of a mistake-proned Cardinals team that committed four turnovers, all interceptions (including two by Dre' Bly) by rookie quarterback John Navarre. The bad news is that Detroit was only able to score 12 points off those turnovers despite finding themselves deep in Cardinals territory thanks to the miscues.
Detroit's Joey Harrington who went 15-of-27 (75.5 passer rating), squandered several chances to salt the game away early in the second half when he was unable to move the football. "We had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns in the red zone," complained Lions head coach Steve Mariucci. "We've got to be better scoring touchdowns instead of Jason Hanson field goals."
"We left some things out there, we missed some. But we have something to build on," admitted Harrington.
What they can build on was rookie running back Kevin Jones' 196-yard, 1 touchdown rushing performance that propelled the Lions to the 26-12 win. Jones fell just one yard short of tying Mel Farr's all time franchise single game yardage mark. And Jones performance raises some interesting questions; what if the Lions shifted gears and became primarily a running team?
Look, Detroit has almost no shot to take the offensive game plan they've shown over the past 12 weeks into Lambeau Field and win. Joey Harrington is barely completing 50% of his passes and over the past few weeks he has shown almost zero playmaking ability.
Jones on the other hand, appears to be getting stronger as the season wears on and maybe opposing defenses begin to tire. The Lions would appear to be better served by putting the ball on the ground, especially on the "Frozen Tundra," a place where the wind and snow play havoc with everyone's passing game except Brett Favre's.
Why not see what Jones could do given the ball 25-30 times in Green Bay, a place where Detroit has not won a football game in eons? Detroit ought to script the game play to go with a ratio of 7-to-3 runs to passes. Commit to giving Jones the ball at least 25 times and give it to Shawn Bryson or the recently demoted Artose Pinner 10-to-12 times more.
Run it and then run it some more and mix in a little play action passing to extend the defense. Hey, maybe you could even hit on a big play by setting it up with the run. Everyone knows that the Packers have a potent offense and are tough to beat at home. Going into this game with the same gameplan that has lost over and over again is an option, but why not see if Jones can be the catalyst for change and a playoff berth?
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