JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When D’Andre Swift dropped the game-winning touchdown pass Detroit The Lions’ Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears, the rookie who ran back, swore up and down to anyone who would listen that it would not be a sign of things to come in his NFL career.
On Sunday, when he played his first professional game at a stadium where he had so much collegial success, Swift made the words good.
Swift ran to 116 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and the Lions got their best defensive effort of the season to strike Jacksonville Jaguars, 34-16, at TIAA Bank Stadium.
“What I like about him is just nothing that really burns him,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He made such a mistake and just keeps it moving and knows he’s going to play good games later in the game. He has a lot of confidence in himself and his teammates. We have great confidence in him, really all the guys on this team. So he’s just another big part of it and has done a really good job as a young guy. ”
For subscribers: Lions Grades: Handing out A as candy after blowing out Jaguars
Swift, another round in the April draft, experienced its most extensive workload for the season Sunday in the Lions’ first game out of farewell.
He broke a 54-yard run on his first game of scrimmage, logged most of his career-high 14 carries while playing behind a makeshift offensive line and helped the Lions build what was – finally – an insurmountable double-digit lead, when he scored on a leaping 1 yard run early in the second quarter.
The Lions, who had lost six straight games in double-digit lead, including all three defeats this year, played with a rotating cast Sunday after starting right tackle Tyrell Crosby and right-back Halapoulivaati Vaitai back in the first half with dehydration.
Shawn Windsor: Lions victory over terrible Jaguars means nothing.
Carlos Monarrez: Yes, Matt Patricia deserves credit for the Lions Giant victory
Matt Nelson, a converted defensive lineman who played exclusively as a sixth offensive lineman in the first four games, finished Sunday on the right tackle and helped the Lions raise a season-high 180-yard rushing.
“Just give our guys credit,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “I thought our guys handled the last two weeks really well. They ignored everything and went out and played aggressively. It was nice to see. ”
In particular, Patricia and the Lions as a whole are under intensive control this year for their persistent losses and repeated fighting on the spot.
They lost 17, 11 and 14 points in losses to the Bears, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans The Saints and Patricia went into Sunday’s fight with many believing he risked losing his job with another loss.
Sunday’s win over one of the worst teams in the NFL – the Jaguars (1-5) have given up at least 30 points in five straight games – will not lessen this pressure, but it will at least give the Lions something to build on when they start. a winable series of games now through Thanksgiving.
The Lions (2-3) play rings Atlanta Falcons next week and will meet only one team with a winning record by December. Falcons (1-5) beat Minnesota Vikings, 40-23, Sunday for their first win of the year.
“We definitely see the equation (to win) when we put four blocks together, even though we can be much better,” defensive end Trey Flowers said. “I think it’s for us to be able to do that and put it out there, we see the equation. So we know we have to get back to the drawing board in practice, focusing on all the little things we did during the week that resulted in this victory. And we just have to keep playing.
“A lot of people are probably discrediting us, but it’s still hard to win in the NFL. It’s an NFL team and they have a lot of good talented guys, especially on offense and in defense. It’s hard to win and this win is a win. ”
The Lions dominated the game from the start Sunday, forcing a three-and-out on Jacksonville’s first possession, followed by a 10-play touchdown drive.
Swift, who went 3-0 at TIAA Bank Stadium against Florida during his career in Georgia, added his first touchdown of the day on the next series, and the Lions led comfortably, 24-3, as Stafford threw his first career touchdown- pass against the Jaguars – the only opponent he had not run a TD against in his first 11 NFL seasons – in the middle of the third quarter.
Stafford completed 19-of-31 passes for 223 yards, Swift added a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Kenny Golladay had four catches in 105 yards. Swift and Golladay became the first Lions teammates topping 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game since 2013.
Defensively, the Lions forced two Gardner Minshew turnovers – one fumble and one interception – and kept the Jaguars (1-5) at a season-low 44 yards rushing.
“It was not necessarily a statement,” Lions safety Duron Harmon said. “We just knew we could play better and we just had to find a way to play better, and I think we did. I mean, I wouldn’t say statements because making it a game means nothing. I mean, we need to find ways to be consistent, and that’s what needs to be done now. ”
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.