Three weeks ago, Kevin Smith was sitting on his couch, out of the NFL. Today he scored three touchdowns to lead a Lions comeback. The running back who is now in his second stint with Detroit rushed for 140 yards and added 61 yards through the air. Smith also scored the game clinching touchdown as the Lions overcame a 17 point deficit to beat the Carolina Panthers 49-35.
Smith stole the show in Detroit today, ripping off long gains with elusiveness and strength. Smith looked as good as ever, racking up 201 yards on 20 touches- 10.0 yards per touch. Quarterback Matthew Stafford also came alive in the second half, and ended up throwing for five touchdowns and 335 yards.
The stories will be about another fantastic Lions comeback, but the real story is another Dr. Jackal- Mr. Hyde performance by the Detroit Lions. In the first half the team looked dismal, turning the ball over on all three of their first possessions. The last team to do that? Well, the Lions became the first. Defensively the Lions looked sluggish, allowing quarterback Cam Newton to control the game. Newton had both a rushing and passing score in the half, and led his team to a 27-14 lead at the break.
Special teams were again a problem- Kealoha Pilares (who???), the rookie wide receiver from Hawaii, ran back a kickoff 102 untouched yards for a touchdown right after Kevin Smith got the Lions on the board with a 28 yard touchdown catch from a screen pass.
I don’t know what Jim Schwartz is feeding the Lions at halftime, but once again, the second half was a different story for Detroit. The team stepped up on offense right away, scoring two touchdowns in the first ten minutes of the second half. After a poor first half that included two bad interceptions, Stafford finally played to his potential. He made a few laser-like throws, including a nice toss to tight end Brandon Pettigrew with 2:32 left that broke the 35-35 tie.
The defense also stepped up forced three second half turnovers, including two crucial interceptions in the final two minutes.
The win was crucial for the Lions, and with how well they played in the second half, they deserved the win.
My problem is this: if the Lions continue to play such poor football in the first half, they will not be able to comeback against good teams. You can’t start slow against Green Bay or other contending teams and win. The Lions HAVE to get much more consistent if they want to make the playoffs. Even second tier teams such as Oakland and San Diego (Lions play both these teams down the stretch) won’t be particularly easy to comeback on from 17+ down.
The good news is that the Lions got a win in a must win situation, and may have found Jahvid Best’s replacement in Kevin Smith. However, the bad news is that the Lions are still not quite there in terms of consistency.
That said, if they play like they did in the second half for a whole game, look out Green Bay.