Lions run defense continues to smother opposing RBs

One of the overlooked facets of Saturday night’s controversially officiated game between the Lions and Cowboys is just how well the Detroit run defense played. For the second week in a row, the Lions turned in an elite defensive performance in stopping opposing running backs.

In this case, it was Tony Pollard. The lead Cowboys RB managed just 49 yards on 16 carries, 18 of which came on one run. Even more impressive than holding Pollard to just over 3.0 yards per carry is that the Lions did so without stacking the box a single time, per Next Gen Stats. Base defense suffocated the opposing running back in Dallas, just as it did one week earlier against the Vikings. Minnesota, Detroit’s Week 18 opponent, gained 16 yards on 10 carries by running backs in Week 16 against the Lions.

It has been an unheralded strength of the Lions defense all season, but especially since the Week 9 bye week. In the eight games since the bye, Detroit’s defense has allowed opposing running backs just 474 yards on 151 carries. That’s an average of just 3.18 yards per handoff. Quarterbacks and wideouts, as well as whatever you want to call Taysom Hill, have fared quite a bit better against the Lions, but the run defense has been great at stopping running backs.

It looks even better on first-down carries by running backs. The Lions have more tackles-for-loss on running backs (10) than runs of five or more yards (9) on 1st-and-10 runs in the last six games.

For the year, Detroit’s overall run defense ranks third (tied with Chicago) in total yards per carry allowed (3.7) and fifth in rushing yards per game (88.8).


Story originally appeared on Lions Wire