Mikel Leshoure ran for three touchdowns, Calvin Johnson got involved early and 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 three-score 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.
"Coach emphasized this week that we wanted to get off to a good start, a fast start, an early start," said Leshoure, who dedicated the victory to his newborn son. "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 scored on runs of 7, 1 and 8 yards, becoming the first in franchise history to run for three touchdowns in the first half. Not even Hall of Famer Barry Sanders accomplished that feat. Joique Bell added 73 yards on the ground and a score. 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 offence that's unstoppable," Lions right tackle Gosder Cherilus said. "If we can do this every weekend, the sky's the limit for this offence."
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.
"There is 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 found a way to contribute. He made a lot of 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."
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.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, failed to get much going a week after playing Green Bay tough in a 24-15 loss. Now, they are tied for the worst start in franchise history. A loss Thursday night to Indianapolis would make it worse than 2003.
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 offence 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."
It was the latest debacle for the Jaguars, who have been blown out in four home games. They were far from competitive against Houston (27-7), Cincinnati (27-10) and Chicago (41-3), and now have been outscored 126-34 at EverBank Field this season.
Jacksonville trailed 24-0 before getting on the scoreboard. Gabbert found Micheal Spurlock for a 5-yard TD 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 touchdown drive, capped by Bell's 10-yard run.
"It hurts. I'm tired of this," Jaguars 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."
Receiver Mike Thomas, traded from Jacksonville to Detroit on Tuesday, played sparingly against his former team.
The Lions hardly needed him. Ryan Broyles caught six passes for 52 yards. Titus Young, coming off a two-touchdown performance, dropped a pass in the end zone — about the only thing the Lions did wrong.
Detroit played without starting safeties Amari Spievey and Louis Delmas, but the Jaguars failed to take advantage of their backups. Gabbert misfired on just about every deep pass.
"Offence, defence 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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