Unlike the “Silver Crush” created by Jim Schwartz, Jim Caldwell and Teryl Austin‘s Free Hurt Defense has continued to live up to their billing as the top defense in the NFL. It isn’t just this season, either. Where they sit in Week 14, the Lions are allowing the 5th fewest rushing yards per game (62.8 yards) in NFL history.
A late season push by the Seattle Seahawks has seen the Lions fall from their #1 position in total yards per game, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t still make history while they dole out some free hurt.
With the First Pick
The Detroit Lions are on pace to give up only 1,005 yards on the ground. That’s using their season average of 62.8 yards per game, but if we use their average over the past six weeks (only 45 yards), it’s only 952 yards with an insane final average of 59.5 yards per game.
I mentioned the Seahawks having a late season resurgence by their defense, but they aren’t the only ones. The Lions rush defense has become nearly impenetrable, with teams opting out of the run almost immediately. It’s pretty lofty to consider, but the Lions defense was looking like one of the best ever earlier in the season and they continue to look like they belong there.
The average NFL team has allowed 100 yards rushing 7 times through 13 games this season. No team has allowed 100 yards rushing fewer than 3 times. Except, of course, for the Lions, who have only allowed 100 yards rushing ONE time. Even that was an anomaly for the team. On the first drive of their week 3 match up against the Jets, they allowed 52 yards on the ground. There have been five full GAMES in which the Lions did not allow 52 rushing yards (Including 4 of their last 5 games).
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Few defenses make a team as one-dimensional as the Lions. Again, I’m not referring just to 2014, but ever. Led by their fierce front four and Ndamukong Suh, their one 100 yard rushing game allowed stands not only among but ABOVE some of the great NFL defenses.
The 1985 Chicago Bears allowed 100 yards rushing or more three times. The 2000 Ravens, led by Ray Lewis, would allow four such games in their super bowl season. The 2013 “Legion of Boom” Seahawks? They would allow eleven games in which a team rushed for 100 yards or more.
All three of those are historic defenses, unquestionably among the elite, and the Lions are putting more pressure on teams than any of them.