On the first play of the second quarter, Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson and ran untouched through the middle of the Miami Dolphins’ defense.
The rookie cut to the run and sped down the sideline with five Dolphins in pursuit, marching his way down the field before Reshad Jones pushed him out of bounds at the Miami 20-yard line. A 71-yard gain and the highlight example of the Dolphins’ inability to stop the run in their 32-21 loss on Sunday.
“They made a play,” defensive tackle Davon Godchaux said. “We didn’t.”
The Lions made plenty more plays throughout the game. By game’s end, Detroit had 248 rushing yards, the most given up by the Dolphins in a non-overtime game since giving up 266 yards on the ground in a 33-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 8, 2015. The Lions averaged 7.1 yards per rush, with three of their 35 carries going for at least 20 yards.
Missed tackles were abundant. The defensive line couldn’t contain the edge. The linebackers showed their youth.
And the Lions exploited it all.
“Basically they could do whatever they wanted on that side of the ball,” coach Adam Gase said. “It’s just kind of unusual for our guys. Usually when we have a drive like that, we respond the rest of the game and find a way to get off the field and kind of stop those type of drives.”
But on Sunday, stops were few and far between for Miami (4-3). Detroit put up points on all but one of their eight drives on Sunday. Johnson finished with a career-high 158 yards on just 19 carries. The run game set up the passing game, with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completing 18 of 22 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns - both to tight end Michael Roberts who entered the game with one catch on the season.
“We just have to figure it out,” linebacker Raekwon McMillan said. “If we can’t get it figured out, we’re not going to win a lot of ball games.”
The Dolphins don’t have a lot of time to figure it out. They play at the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
“You have to have a short-term memory,” cornerback Bobby McCain said. “It’s a national stage. We just took an L. Now we have to go grind to get the W.”