After two games, the Detroit Lions had just 1 sack this season.
But in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions had 2 sacks in the first quarter alone. It was the beginning of what would be a Lions sack fest, as Detroit finished the matchup with 7 sacks.
The Lions rode their sack-hungry defense to a 20-6 victory against the Falcons.
Following the win that improved the Lions to 2-1 this season, head coach Dan Campbell raved about his defense and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Campbell said. “AG did a hell of a job.
“We wanted to find a way to generate a little more pressure, and we did that with a couple things that we did. But also, guys really showed up. They really won their one-on-ones, a lot of guys, and we fought on the back end. We really did.”
Lions Defense Records 7 Sacks Against Falcons
Great NFL teams respond to that kind of adversity. That’s exactly what the Lions defense did in Week 3.
Detroit dominated the Atlanta offensive line, making quarterback Desmond Ridder uncomfortable for most of the afternoon. Everyone contributed as six different Lions defenders recorded a sack.
Top pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson led the way with 2 sacks. He also recorded 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass defenses and 1 quarterback hit.
Getting him going had to be one of Detroit’s top priorities heading into Week 3. He led the Lions with 9.5 sacks last season but didn’t have a sack in either of Detroit’s first two games.
“Any time Hutch rushes, I think he’s going to get there. It’s just the nature of the way he rushes,” Campbell told reporters. “He’s high motor. He’s got craft about what he does. He’s not a one-trick pony. He’s got a couple different moves, and he’s got ability.”
With Hutchinson usually drawing multiple blockers, other Lions pass rushers are going to get one-on-one opportunities. As Campbell said, Detroit won in those situations in Week 3.
Benito Jones, Alim McNeill, Derrick Barnes, and Charles Harris all recorded sacks. As did rookie Jack Campbell, who posted the first sack of his career.
Rookie DB Brian Branch Stands Out With 11 Tackles
Defensive back Brian Branch didn’t have a sack, but he was arguably the best player on Detroit’s defense in Week 3.
Branch was all over the field, as he led the Lions with 11 tackles, all of which were solos. He also had a team-high 3 tackles for loss and 2 pass defenses.
“He really stepped up,” Campbell told reporters. “You could feel his energy.”
“The more he plays, the better he gets, and the more he understands what we’re trying to do with him, he’s a playmaker.”
Branch will likely continue to be a key player for the Lions going forward. Veteran defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson went on injured reserve after Week 2 because of a torn pectoral muscle.
Gardner-Johnson all but promised that he will return this season. But he is expected to miss a significant amount of time.
That means Branch could continue to see a lot of playing time as he did in Week 3.
Behind 11 tackles for loss, Branch and the Lions defense held the Falcons to 44 rushing yards and 2.2 yards per carry. Rookie sensation Bijan Robinson had 33 rushing yards on 10 carries.
The Lions will face the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football in Week 4.