Published November 20, 2014
Mikel Leshoure leapt cornerback Derek Cox early. Joique Bell jumped over safety Chris Prosinski late.
In between those highlight-reel plays, the Detroit duo gave the Lions their best rushing attack in nearly a year.
Leshoure ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns, and Bell added 73 yards and a score as the Lions turned in their most complete victory of the season, 31-14 over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Detroit dominated from start to finish, building a 21-point lead before halftime and coasting after the break. It was a much different feeling for the Lions (4-4), who trailed in the second half in each of their other wins.
"We wanted to get off to a good start, a fast start, an early start," Leshoure said.
Even receiver Calvin Johnson got in on the action.
Johnson, who got off to slow starts in Detroit's last three games, had five receptions for 99 yards before the Jaguars (1-7) even recorded a first down. He finished with seven catches for 129 yards after getting a pain-killing shot in his left knee.
Matthew Stafford completed 22 of 33 passes for 285 yards, building on last week's impressive outing against Seattle. He became the second-fastest quarterback to throw for 10,000 career yards in NFL history, reaching the milestone in 37 games. Former St. Louis Rams star Kurt Warner did it in 36 games.
But most of the talk afterward was about Detroit's ground game. The 149 yards rushing were the team's most since gaining 169 against Carolina nearly a year ago.
"You combine that running game with our passing game, it's an offense that's unstoppable," Lions right tackle Gosder Cherilus said. "If we can do this every weekend, the sky's the limit for this offense."
Leshoure scored on runs of 7, 1 and 8 yards, becoming the first back in franchise history to run for three touchdowns in the first half. Not even Hall of Famer Barry Sanders accomplished that feat. Bell added a fourth-quarter scoring jaunt, which made it 31-8 and sent Jaguars fans scrambling for the exits.
Those fans have seen this before — all season really.
Jacksonville has been outscored 126-34 in four home games. And if coach Mike Mularkey's team doesn't find a way to beat Indianapolis (5-3) on Thursday night, the Jaguars will be off to their worst start in franchise history.
"I'm tired of this," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "There's nobody to point a finger at because we're all in this together, and together we're going to have to find a way to win ball games, period. There's nothing else left to it. ... One of these days we're going to put it all together and get it done and get it done again and get it done again. That's what keeps us hungry. And whoever is not with that, go home. Don't come back."
In the latest debacle at EverBank Field, Jacksonville trailed 14-0 before getting a first down and 24-0 in the fourth quarter.
A week after playing Green Bay tough in a 24-15 road loss, the Jaguars were back to their old ways.
They turned the ball over twice. They dropped at least four passes. They failed to generate much pass rush. They struggled to stop the run. They allowed receivers to get open all over the field.
And the team's effort was called into question again, something Mularkey strongly denied.
"I have not seen a lack of effort," Mularkey said. "That will never be tolerated on our football team. I can assure you that will not happen."
Asked to clarify his stance, Mularkey responded, "No and don't ask me again."
Blaine Gabbert completed 27 of 38 passes for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rashad Jennings, starting his second game in place of Maurice Jones-Drew, ran for 45 yards.
Jacksonville opened with three straight three-and-outs and had one first down when Leshoure found the end zone for the third time.
"Come on, that's pathetic for an offense to have 12 plays in the first half and be 0 for 4 on third downs," Gabbert said. "We can't afford to shoot ourselves in the foot or else it's going to be a poor showing like that."
Jacksonville finally got on the scoreboard when Gabbert found Micheal Spurlock for a 5-yard score with 8:36 remaining. The Jaguars made the 2-point conversation, but it did little to change the momentum.
The Lions answered with an 80-yard TD drive, capped by Bell's 10-yard run.
"Offense, defense and special teams showed up like we were looking for and played a complete game," Stafford said.
NOTES: Stafford is fourth-youngest QB to reach 10,000 yards. ... Jaguars WR Laurent Robinson returned after missing three games with a concussion. He caught six passes for 41 yards. ... A week after the Jaguars had nine drops, they had at least four more. Two of them ended up as interceptions for Gabbert.
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