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The Lions steadfastly maintain they got what they needed out of the run game Sunday in Tampa. The 72 yards from Jahvid Best and the 126 yards overall were enough to keep the defense honest and eat a significant chunk of clock in the second half.
Still, the longest run was a 20-yard reverse by wide receiver Nate Burleson. Best’s longest run was nine yards. They ran mostly to the left side, behind Jeff Backus and Rob Sims, and most of the runs that were designed for the edges wound up being turned inside.
“I think we missed a couple blocks that would have sprung Jahvid for not only big gains but for touchdowns,” Sims said. “I’m sure there’s a few that Jahvid wishes he could have back, as well.”
Neither Best nor Jerome Harrison produced much in short-yardage situations, a carryover issue from last season. There were five runs that went for losses.
“I think it was spotty the whole game,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “I think at times we ran the ball well, but we took too many lost yardage plays in the run game.”
Best, considered a speedy, explosive game-breaker, didn’t show much speed on the chopped up grass in Tampa. One play in particular, a third-and-9, he caught a pass in the flat and had two steps on a linebacker. That linebacker, Dakoda Watson, caught him two yards short of the first down.
“Me being faster than pretty much everybody on the field in college, I could pick which way I wanted to go,” Best said. “I’d choose to go around the corner because in college I could outrun those guys. But at this level, you can’t do that. When things are even, you have to get running north and south because that’s where the yards are at.”
Either that’s maturity speaking or a guy who has lost a step. Of Best’s 21 attempts, 14 were up the middle or off the right and left guards. One was off the left tackle and six outside the ends. And, there were at least a half dozen times when Best cut back up the field just to get what he could get.
“Now when the time presents itself to go around the corner, I will go out there,” Best said. “But when things are pretty much even, I’m just thinking about getting the yards. Just getting yards and staying efficient and being a productive running back.”
It will interesting to see how Best fares on the speedy track inside Ford Field this Sunday.
12th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 7-4, though they won the last meeting, 25-20 in 2007. The Lions had lost the four previous games by an average of 15 points. There is actually more shared history among the two coaching staffs than there is in the 11 games played between the two teams. Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham spent 11 years in Kansas City, two of them as the head coach. On the Chiefs’ staff are former Lions coaches Jim Zorn, Maurice Carthon and Bill Muir.
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