After the Detroit Lions Week 15 win over the New York Jets, they have shown they can find different ways to win. Going to the Meadowlands, it was going to be a difficult road game against another up-and-coming team. It was a battle all game as both defenses stifled the opposing offenses. A Lions touchdown in the last two minutes gave them a 3-point lead, and Greg Zuerlein was not close on his 58-yard attempt as time expired. Let's look at which Lion's performances could earn a game ball.
Who are the Detroit Lions Week 15 Game Ball candidates?
Kalif Raymond has been quietly making plays as the Lions' punt returner for the past couple of weeks. He has made the first guy miss picking up extra yards, but today, he finally broke loose. With the Jets putting from their end zone, Raymond took a line drive, found the hole, and took it to the house. Even though he is mainly a returner, Raymond also did damage on offense. He was the second-leading receiver with 5 catches and 53 yards including several key first downs. A well-rounded performance from an underrated weapon.
For the 46 minutes of this game, it would seem crazy to have Brock Wright. He had 0 catches and even had a bad drop on what could've been a nice gain. On top of that, he missed a block on the failed 4th and goal conversion causing a turnover on downs. But, when you make a huge play on the biggest play of the game, nothing else matters.
On a 4th and inches, with the game on the line, the Lions went to Wright, and he delivered. Wright found himself wide open, secured the pass, and then turned on the burners. Wright did just enough to sneak into the endzone for the game-winning score in a crucial game. Wright did not have the best game but give him credit, when the Lions needed him, he stepped up and made the biggest play of the game.
In his second game back from an Achilles injury, Romeo Okwara wasted no time making a big impact. Okwara showed no signs of rust as he was effective all game collapsing the pocket around Zach Wilson. Okwara was not just getting pressure; he did a great job cleaning up as well, picking up two sacks. The second was a huge one on the final drive. On the first play of the drive, Okwara cleaned up an Aidan Hutchinson pressure for a 9-yard loss and a huge time waste. It was an exciting return for the talented edge rusher as Okwara can add to the exciting duo of Hutchinson and James Houston.
Winner: Kalif Raymond
Raymond's punt return touchdown might be forgotten after Wright's long touchdown, but its importance can't be overstated. Playing an elite defense, especially in the red zone, it was huge for the Lions to get a touchdown from their special teams. That, plus, his very solid receiving day was enough to take the game ball for this Sunday. This has to feel especially good after Raymond started the 2017 season on the Jets. They cut him after he muffed a few punts, so it must have been good to show his former team what they missed out on.
All stats via ESPN.