JACKSONVILLE – On a day when the Detroit Lions got a tremendous effort from a virtually unknown runningback named Mikel Leshoure, a rookie named Doug Martin turned the National Football League on its ear.
Here on a warm day by the banks of the St. John’s River, Leshoure ran for three touchdowns, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was exceptional and Matt Stafford warmed up that white-hot right-arm as the Lions jumped out to a 21-0 lead and coasted to a 31-14 victory over the lowly Jaguars.
“Coach emphasized this week that we wanted to get off to a good start, a fast start, an early start,” said Leshoure, afterward. “We weren’t able to get a touchdown or a field goal on the first drive, but throughout the game and the first quarter, we were pretty successful. That enabled us to get off to a faster start than usual.”
Leshoure finished with 70 yards rushing and became the first player in Lions history to run for three touchdowns in the first half. Not even Hall of Famer Barry Sanders did that.
Megatron, meanwhile, got off to slow starts in Detroit’s last three games and many insiders thought he might be nicked up. On Sunday, he had five receptions for 99 yards before the Jaguars recorded a first down and finished with seven catches for 129 yards after getting a shot of cortisone in his left knee, proving that he was, indeed, injured.
“There’s a reason he didn’t practice this week,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “It wasn’t because we were just resting him. He’s a tough guy and he found a way to contribute. He made a lot of big plays for us. We had a feeling he would be able to do something, just how much or how long he could go was really the question.”
Meanwhile, in Oakland yesterday, a local Oakland guy named Doug Martin returned home and put up monster numbers. Keep reading. You’ll get a pretty good feeling for one of the greatest single-game performances in NFL history.
It is Week 9 in the National Football League and there were 12 games on Sunday. We were in Jacksonville where…
Detroit 31 Jacksonville 14
Mikel Leshoure carried 16 times for 70 yards and three touchdowns while Calvin Johnson caught seven passes for 129 yards as the Lions built a 21-0 halftime lead and coasted pass a very bad Jaguars team. Matthew Stafford went 22-for-33 for 285 yards but Detroit scored all of its touchdowns on the ground. Detroit improved to 4-4 with their second straight win while Jacksonville fell to 1-7.
Seattle 30 Minnesota 20
Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and one touchdown and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdowns as the Seahawks improved to 5-4. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson had his best game since 2008, carrying 17 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings lost their second straight and fell to 5-4. Christian Ponder was, once again, horrendous, going 11-for-22 for just 63 measly yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
Green Bay 31 Arizona 17
Aaron Rodgers went 14-for-30 for 218 yards, four touchdowns and one interception as he led the Packers to an easy win over an Arizona team that has lost five straight. Tom Crabtree caught a 72-yard touchdown pass, the longest of the season for Green Bay. John Skelton went 23-for-46 for 306 yards and one touchdown for the Cardinals. The Packers are now 6-3 while Arizona falls to 4-5.
Chicago 51 Tennessee 20
Brian Urlacher returned an interception for a touchdown and Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes as the Bears exploded on the road to improve to 7-1. Chicago set a franchise record with 28 points in the first quarter. Cutler went 19-for-26 for 229 yards and no interceptions. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has nine tackles and forced four fumbles while Brandon’s Israel Idonije had two tackles and half a sack. Tennessee had five fumbles and an interception and fell to 3-6 on the season.
Pittsburgh 24 New York Giants 20
The Steelers scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win it, as RB Isaac Redman was the hero, rushing 26 times for 147 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 4:02 remaining. The 5-3 Steelers stopped New York’s four-game winning streak. Ben Roethlisberger finished 21-of-30 for 216 yards and two TDs. Eli Manning was a lousy 10-of-24 for 125 yards, no TDs and an interception. The Giants fell to 6-3.
Carolina 21 Washington 13
Cam Newton completed 13-of-23 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown and ran eight times for 37 yards and another score as the Panthers ended a five-game losing streak. Robert Griffin III completed 23-of-39 passes for 215 yards, no TDs and no interceptions as Washington lost its third straight and fell to 3-6. Carolina improved to 2-6 and probably saved coach Ron Rivera’s job.
Baltimore 25 Cleveland 15
Cleveland came back from a 14-0 deficit to take a 15-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on as Joe Flacco threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 4:26 left as the Baltimore Ravens won their 11th straight game against AFC North competition. Flacco finished at just 15-for-24 for 153 yards and one TD while Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden went 20-for-37 for 176 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions as Cleveland fell to 2-7 and proved they don’t have a quarterback or a head coach. The Ravens are now 6-2, 5-0 after the bye week with John Harbaugh as head coach.
Denver 31 Cincinnati 23
Peyton Manning improved to 8-0 in his career against Cinci as he finished 27-for-35 for 291 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Eric Decker caught eight passes for 99 yards and two TDs. Trindon Holiday returned a kickoff for a Broncos-record 105-yard touchdown. The Broncos are now 5-3 while Cincinnati falls to 3-5. The Bengals led 20-17 in the fourth quarter when Manning exploded for two late touchdowns.
Houston 21 Buffalo 9
Texans RB Arian Foster carried 24 times for 111 yards against the NFL’s worst rushing defense while Matt Schaub completed 19-of-27 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns as Houston improved to 7-1. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went 25-for-28 for 239 yards and no TDs as Buffalo fell to 3-5. It was Schaub’s 10th win in 11 starts.
Indianapolis 23 Miami 20
This might have been the best game of the weekend. Indy’s rookie sensation Andrew Luck broke the NFL’s single-game rookie record by throwing for 433 yards. Luck went 30-of-48 with two touchdowns as he broke Cam Newton’s previous mark of 422 yards that he set last season. And it came on the day when Colts head coach Chuck Pagano returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia. Pagano gave his team a heart-wrenching speech after the game. Indy has won three straight and is now 3-5. Ryan Tannehill played well for Miami, going 22-of-38 for 290 yards and a TD, but the Dolphins fell to 4-4. WR Donnie Avery caught five passes for 108 yards, Reggie Wayne caught seven passes for 78 yards and a TD and rookie wideout T.Y. Hilton caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead the Colts.
Tampa Bay 42 Oakland 32
It was the Doug Martin Show for Tampa. The Bucs rookie rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns, and DB Ahmad Black intercepted a Carson Palmer pass late in the game after Oakland had cut an 18-point deficit to three. Martin, who was born in Oakland, had a memorable homecoming for the Bucs by scoring on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards in the second half. Tampa Bay has now won two straight and are 4-4 on the season. According to STATS LLC, Martin, who as the 31st overall pick in 2012 out of Boise State, became the first running back since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game. Carson Palmer went 39-for-61 for 414 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort.
Atlanta 19 Dallas 13
The Falcons remain undefeated at 8-0. Michael Turner scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter and Matt Brant kicked four field goals. Turner had 20 carries for 102 yards. Matt Ryan finished 24-for-34 for 342 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions while Tony Romo went 25-for-35 for 321 yards and a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Kevin Ogletree, but that was it. Dallas fell to 3-5. The Cowboys might need a new coach.
New Orleans 28 Philadelphia 13
The Eagles lost their fourth straight as the Saints Drew Brees went 21-for-27 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Brees has now thrown a touchdown pass in 51 straight games. Philly’s Michael Vick, who got very little time to throw, went 22-of-41 for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception. LeSean McCoy carried 19 times for 119 yards while DeSean Jackson caught three passes for 100 yards, including a 77-yarder that resulted in the Saints only touchdown. The Saints improved to 3-5 and all seems to be well. The Eagles fell to 3-5 and there is talk that head coach Andy Reid is in trouble and that rookie Nick Foles should take over from Vick at quarterback. Only one problem with the Foles idea. He’d be killed behind that dreadful Eagles offensive line.