Playoffs? Lions' Williams is serious

Knowing the response he was likely to get, wide receiver Roy Williams included the appropriate disclaimer in his evaluation of the Lions. "We have a chance to make it to the playoffs," said Williams. "Laugh at that, print what you want ... (but) this team has a good chance of making the playoffs." More inside.

Knowing the response he was likely to get, wide receiver Roy Williams included the appropriate disclaimer in his evaluation of the Lions.

"I think guys are hungry, we know that we're not losers," Williams said. "Like I said, we're the best 2-6 team in this league. We have a chance to make it to the playoffs.

"I know you all can laugh at that, print what you want to, talk about it but this team has a good chance of making the playoffs, if we do the things we're supposed to do. It's that simple."

Considering the Lions have suffered through five consecutive double-digit loss seasons and have not won more than two games in a row since 2000, it is hard to project them seriously as mid-season playoff contenders on the strength of their 2-6 record.

But their 30-14 upset of the Atlanta Falcons provided support for what Williams has been saying since he and the rest of the Lions began getting the feel for Mike Martz's offense earlier in the season.

"There's no stopping this offense," he said. "The only people that can stop this offense is ourselves and you saw that today."

They scored three touchdowns -- two by running back Kevin Jones and one by Williams -- and Jason Hanson kicked three field goals but they ended two promising drives with back-to-back penalties.

For much of the afternoon at Ford Field, however, they executed offensive coordinator Martz's game plan just the way it was drawn up.

Quarterback Jon Kitna completed 20 of 32 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown; Williams caught six passes for 138 yards and a touchdown; Jones carried 26 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught four passes for an additional 30 yards.

The playoff possibilities might -- as Williams suggested -- bring a laugh, but there was nothing funny about the way the Lions moved the football against Atlanta.

"I was telling Kevin Jones, if we would have been clicking the way that we're clicking right now, at the beginning of the season, you can put us in the category of the elite teams in this league," Williams said. "And I think that's a fair statement."

Part of the problem, as Williams explained, was the time required for the Lions players to get a handle on Martz's offense.

"In this offense, you have to know what you're doing, play in and play out," he said. "I don't know how many protections we have; I know we have well over 15 protections. You take that to an offensive lineman, with all the different looks a defense can give you. Now that's tough.

"Then I have 13 different routes. One play, I might have five different routes that I can run. It's a tough offense and it's hard to cover, and that's what makes it so hard.

"This is a really good team, just slow starting. Maybe the bye week should have come in week four; then we would have been alright. But we can turn this thing around."

Whether they get it turned around or not is anybody's guess but they are going into what is probably the most favorable part of their schedule -- home next Sunday against San Francisco followed by a road game against Arizona and the traditional Thanksgiving Day game against Miami.

If they somehow can get close to .500 by the end of November, they will have to prove their mettle against some of the NFL's best teams with road games against New England, Green Bay and Dallas, sandwiched around home games with Minnesota and Chicago.

PLAYER NOTES
 

  • RB Kevin Jones is averaging a career-best 110 yards from scrimmage per game at the halfway mark of the season. With 110 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving in the 30-14 victory over Atlanta on Sunday, he pushed his season total to 880 yards from scrimmage. That includes 584 yards rushing (80 short of his season total in the disappointing 2005 season) and 296 yards receiving (already his career best). With six rushing touchdowns, Jones already has surpassed his career best of five in 2004 and 2005.
     
  • WR Roy Williams, who had four 100-yard receiving games total in his first two NFL seasons, has gone over the century mark receiving in four of the Lions' last six games under offensive coordinator Mike Martz this season. His latest was a 138-yard effort that included a 60-yard touchdown play in the 30-14 victory Sunday against Atlanta. With 719 receiving yards in eight games this season, Williams is only 98 yards short of his career best season.
     
  • QB Jon Kitna is on pace to break several Lions single-season passing records. Kitna has completed 187 of 296 attempts for 2,174 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first eight games. In his record-setting 1995 season, former Lion Scott Mitchell had 2,036 yards on 176 of 299 attempts through the first eight games on his way to team records of 583 attempts, 346 completions and 4,338 yards.
     
  • CB Dre' Bly, who had 16 interceptions in his first three seasons with the Lions, got his first of the 2006 season against Michael Vick in the 30-14 victory Sunday. Bly intercepted the pass at the Falcons' 10-yard line and returned it to the two, setting up Kevin Jones' two-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.
     
  • LB Teddy Lehman got his first game action since Oct. 30, 2005, in the Lions' 30-14 victory Sunday against Atlanta. Lehman spent the first eight weeks of the season on the PUP list recovering from a foot injury. Playing off the bench at MLB against the Falcons, he had one tackle and one assist.


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