1. Brian Branch is the real deal
It's been a well-belabored point in the roughly 24 hours since the game ended, but we'll belabor it again. Branch was all over the field on Sunday, leading the Lions with 11 total tackles as he also had three tackles for loss and two pass breakups. He posted the second-best Pro Football Focus grade among Lions defenders for the week (84.9, behind only Aidan Hutchinson's 91.8).
Branch drew a questionable penalty for a hit on Bijan Robinson late in the fourth quarter, after the Falcons' running back's helmet fell off. If anything, Robinson sort of lowered his head and that made the play look much rougher than it probably would have been otherwise--though it was a big hit by Branch. The penalty was not consequential, and it if had been in a different situation it would be looked at way differently. The referee really can't be blamed for throwing the flag, as a reaction to Robinson's helmet flying off.
But the play turned out to be a symbol for the day Branch had, and the tone he set.
When asked after the game about drawing a flag for the hit on Robinson, Branch said something that will be remembered. Hats, t-shirts etc. are probably with the most direct portion of his line on them are surely being designed as we speak.
F-ck it,” Branch said. “F-ck it. I’d rather show him that I’m not scared to tackle him, and I’ll take the flag, to be honest.
Branch also played all 67 defensive snaps for the Lions on Sunday, with his intensity and effort never letting up from start to finish. He had a Defensive Rookie of Year-type performance against the Falcons, as the tone setter for a great showing from the Detroit defense.