The ball found its way into those big paws, and Shaun Rogers, all 6-4, 340-plus pounds of him, rumbled down the field Sunday. He tucked the ball high and tight with his right arm, as if he were a running back, not a defensive tackle, and his teammates scrambled.
"Guys were jumping up on the sidelines," offensive lineman Jeff Backus said. "They just wanted to see it. They wanted to witness it."
"I was telling the big man to run, run, run, run," wide receiver Roy Williams said. "I was running down the sideline with him."
When Denver running back Selvin Young tried to stop him, Rogers just stiff-armed the 5-11, 207-pounder. The 66-yard interception return for a touchdown was the highlight of the Lions' 44-7 victory over the Broncos.
The Lions mobbed Rogers in the end zone. Rogers needed a rest, but he celebrated in his usual way -- pretending to rip open his shirt to reveal an "S" on his chest. Defensive tackle Shaun Cody cupped his hands as if they were a bowl, and Rogers pretended to gobble up the contents, as if he were gobbling up everything in his path. He took oxygen on the bench.
"I jumped on him in the end zone," Williams said. "It was a good party down there. I think he needed an inhaler when he was done. I was trying to get him to do his Superman move that he always does. It took him about 10 minutes for him to do that. He's the most dominant defensive player in the league."
Rogers was dominant against Denver, with 2 1/2 sacks, four quarterback hurries, three tackles and a pass defensed to go along with the interception. After one sack, he did a somersault.
That enthusiasm might be the best sign of all for the Lions. Rogers, who did not speak to reporters after the game, has a reputation for playing hard only when he wants to. Last year was a disappointment, six games, then a four-game suspension for taking a banned dietary supplement, then knee and shoulder surgeries.
Coach Rod Marinelli put faith in Rogers in the offseason and preseason, keeping him out of practice to make sure he was completely healthy and in the best condition possible. Rogers has rewarded him by not missing a practice since the season started and by playing well.
"He's having a great year, a tremendous year," Marinelli said. "It's just his presence. I called him the server because he keeps serving sacks for everybody because he's so disruptive. Now he's starting to be the stealer. He's starting to take them."
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Individual Player Notes