Without his presence, the Detroit Lions were a one-dimensional offense that flirted with greatness but often times struggled to achieve an identity. And while the return of Kevin Jones hasn't turned the team into a powerhouse, he has given them something it lacked: consistency. Much more inside.
So, Kevin Jones, what was more impressive in the Lions' 23-16 victory over Tampa Bay? Your 76 rushing yards? Your 34 receiving yards? Or your wife, Robyn, singing the national anthem at Ford Field?
"Anthem," Jones said. "Always the anthem."
But Jones was pretty impressive himself Sunday. Four games into his return from a bad foot injury, he started for the first time this season. And offensive coordinator Mike Martz set the tone by getting him the ball on the Lions' first four offensive plays.
Jones had 15 carries and six catches, and getting into a rhythm helped him.
"The confidence, the coaches believing in you to do the job that you do every day, that always helps," Jones said. "We got with it early and we stuck with it, so that was good."
After the Lions' previous game, Jones had voiced his displeasure with not getting the ball at all in the first half.
"It gets away from us sometimes," Jones said. "But that's what (Martz) does. He's still at genius at what he does. He throws the ball well, and then he can run the ball well. So those are his plays, the running plays, too. We just try to do what we know how to do to win games. It worked for us today."
Jones isn't 100 percent healthy yet and probably won't be the rest of this season, but he feels he is getting closer -- and the offense is getting closer to playing up to its potential.
"The offense is explosive," Jones said. "We're just not consistent where we want to be at right now. We've got to show consistency all the time, and that's where we need to be."
Notes and Quotes
Facing a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter Sunday, with his primary receiver well-covered, QB Jon Kitna scrambled for the first down. But he wasn't able to slide. He had to jump, take a hard hit and flip head over heels. "Believe me, I did not want to get a helmet to the, uh, private section," Kitna said. "That's not what I'm looking to have happen. But I didn't see any other way we could get a first down."
Kitna is 35, but he isn't biding time for some young guy to take over. "He's got that youthful glow to him," coach Rod Marinelli said. "He's got a youth to him that is fun. He just really enjoys the game of football. You see him, he has fun every day out there. It's how excited he is to play." Kitna, in the second year of a four-year contract, said he intends to play out the deal. "What I've noticed in the last seven or eight years is that people are so impatient nowadays, and they're trying to catch lightning in a bottle," Kitna said. "The one position that I think you need to have the most continuity at is quarterback. You have to do that. You can't be switching guys in and out."
Why were the Lions blown out in their last two road games? "They're losses," Kitna said. "We didn't play well, and they played great. Both of those games, they really played perfect games, and we didn't play good. When you're on the road, that's going to happen, and when that happens, it's going to look ugly. But we're still a team that's learning how to win. I mean, we're going to lose football games. Nobody wants to hear it, but we're learning how to win. What's the most wins they've had around here in the last 10 years? I don't know."
S Idrees Bashir has injured ribs, but the Lions still did not have an update on his condition Monday.
K Jason Hanson has a lot of leg left for a 37-year-old, 16-year veteran. He boomed three kickoffs for touchbacks, while going 3-for-3 on field goals.
LB Ernie Sims wants to be like Derrick Brooks, and playing against Brooks on Sunday, he led the Lions with 13 tackles.
DE Dewayne White had three sacks against Tampa Bay, his former team, and gave coach Rod Marinelli the game ball afterward.
RB T.J. Duckett was strong in his return from a high ankle sprain. He carried four times in a row, totaling 30 yards.