Any loss is tough to swallow in the NFL, but losses such as this seem particularly bitter. There were plenty of mistakes on both sides of the ball (and special teams as well), but three players in particular put together strong efforts despite the disappointing result.
Jason Hanson, K
Jason Hanson used to be the player of the game on a weekly basis due to the fact that he was the only competent player on the team for ten years or so, but even now that there’s actually talent to be found on the roster he’s still proving to be an incredibly valuable member of the organization. He gets the game ball today not only for his stone-cold ability to knock field goal tries through the uprights – he was 4-4 today from distances of 26, 33, 47, and 53 yards – but also for his ability to fill the punter’s role in a pinch. Regular punter Ben Graham left the game late in the first quarter with a leg injury, and Hanson filled in for him for the rest of the game.
He wasn’t bad either. He ended the day with three punts for a 39.3 average including one dropped inside the 20. His punts weren’t booming, but he put plenty of hang time on them and, most importantly, he didn’t embarrass himself at all.
Mikel LeShoure, RB
Here’s the stat that began floating around Twitter in the fourth quarter: Mikel LeShoure became the first Lions running back to run for 100 yards in his debut since Billy Sims in 1980. His final line was 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad start to a career.
His running average wasn’t spectacular at 3.8 yards per carry, but he showed the ability to be a workhorse and displayed the potential to be a very good NFL back. He’s not an explosive runner, but he generally made excellent cuts and showed good vision to find running holes. He is a classic down-field runner and regularly carried defenders for an extra yard or three after contact. He also participated in the passing game with four catches for 34 yards.
Chris Houston, CB
The Lions secondary was incredibly painful for the third straight week, but Chris Houston at least made his presence felt on the field. He was in on five tackles, deflected a couple of passes, and forced a fourth-quarter fumble that gave the Lions the ball inside of Tennessee territory. His presence alone didn’t solidify the secondary – there were several other guys out there for Jake Locker to pick on – but there was at least one competent cornerback on the field this Sunday.