After a dominant, basically flawless performance on Sunday, here are our three game ball recipients for the Detroit Lions in Week 17.
Sunday was basically a must-win game for the Detroit Lions, even if a loss by itself would not have eliminated them from playoff contention. But after Week 16’s lackluster showing against the Carolina Panthers, coming back home and beating the Chicago Bears was something a team with playoff aspirations (and worthiness to make the playoffs) would do.
Things got off to a rough start for the Lions’ defense, as Bears quarterback Justin Fields ran for over 100 yards by himself in the first quarter. But it didn’t last, and the Lions dominated the Bears in the fashion they should have to the tune of a 41-10 final score.
Putting up 504 yards of offense (265 rushing) and allowing 230 yards to the Bears, with seven sacks and two takeaways, means there are plenty of game ball candidates for the Lions this week. But we give out three here, when we give them out, to maintain a semblance of exclusivity and specialness to the honor.
Here are the three Detroit Lions game balls for Week 17.
3 Detroit Lions game balls for Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears
3. DE Aidan Hutchinson
Hutchinson wasn’t the headliner in terms of sacks on Sunday, credited with a half he shared with Ifeatu Melifonwu among the seven Detroit had. His four total tackles isn’t especially splashy either.
But the No. 2 overall pick in last April’s draft was disciplined in his pass rushes off the edge against Fields, setting up teammates to make plays and generally not giving Fields escape paths to exploit like he did in Week 10 and has done to other teams this season (John Cominsky’s sack, etc.). He made an interception, his third of the season, and he recovered a fumble too.
Great players, if they don’t make plays themselves, often also make an impact beyond the stat sheet. “Great” is not a label we should yet give Hutchinson as his rookie season ends. But performances like Sunday’s, as a key part of a fantastic defensive effort for the Lions, show that it’s in him and he’s on his way to earning that label.