Fri, 22 Jan 2021

NOTEBOOK: Offense looking to rebound on a short week

Detroit Lions
25 Nov 2020, 19:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

The Detroit Lions were shut out for the first time ever with Matthew Stafford starting at quarterback last week in Carolina.

There have been a couple times Detroit and Stafford have been held to six points in his career - 2014 vs. Arizona and 2016 vs. the New York Giants - but never a shutout.

Maybe the short turnaround from Sunday to Detroit's Annual Thanksgiving Day Game Thursday can be a positive thing for this offense. At least Stafford hopes so.

"Obviously, not the performance we wanted last week," Stafford said Tuesday. "Putting up no points isn't acceptable and we know that. But excited to get back out there and play again really quick. There's all sorts of challenges in this week in a short week, but we're excited to get back out there and play pretty quick."

On paper, it looks like there might be some opportunities for Detroit's offense to turn things around at home Thursday. Houston ranks 23rd in points allowed (27.2), 31st in total defense (411.7), 32nd against the run (159.3) and 22nd against the pass (252.4).

The availability of some of Stafford's top weapons on offense will also factor into Detroit's success on offense. Running back D'Andre Swift and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola all missed the Carolina game due to injury, and their availability for Thursday is still in question.

"I think everyone is ready to get out there," said second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson, who led Detroit last week with four catches for 68 yards. "We're out on the field (Tuesday) in a walkthrough and guys are sharp and just trying to fly around and just trying to get better. I think every single one of us are ready to get out there. Like you said, we have a bad taste in our mouth and we just want to go play."

Lions vs. Texans practice report: Nov. 24 Week 12 opponent: What the Texans are saying O'HARA: What we learned from Week 11

SACK STREAK

For nine weeks Lions left tackle Taylor Decker had a pretty amazing streak of not allowing a sack. That streak was broken in Carolina Sunday when Decker was credited with allowing two sacks. With the amount of talented pass rushers in this league, it's pretty amazing Decker's streak lasted into Week 11.

"At some point it's going to happen," Decker said Monday. "At some point you're going to give up one. We're all professional athletes here. That's just football and I know that. I'm confident going up one-on-one against anyone in the league."

This week it will be three-time NFL Defensive MVP J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, Houston's talented edge-rushing duo.

"Obviously he's very physically gifted and talented," Decker said of Watt. "He's 6-5, 295, imposing, has short-space quickness, and then on top of that the guys that are talented that play really hard tend to be disruptive and that's what you see out of him."

If Watt can't get home on the rush he's very good at batting balls down at the line of scrimmage, which he did four times last week in the Texans' win over the Patriots.

Decker, who is currently graded as the ninth best tackle by Pro Football Focus, will look to start a new no-sack streak Thursday.

EXTRA POINTS

Stafford needs one touchdown pass to tie Tony Romo for the most passing touchdowns on Thanksgiving (18). For the first time in their football careers, Lions safety C.J. Moore and Texans safety A.J. Moore - identical twins - will square off on opposite sidelines. A.J. called it a "dream come true" speaking to Houston media on Monday. Hockenson has a bet with three friends on who can go the longest without cutting their hair. Hockenson hasn't cut his since January, just in case you're wondering about those long locks flowing out of his helmet.

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