The Lions spent all week designing an end-around for Amon-Ra St. Brown, and all game setting it up. For most of the first three quarters Sunday against Washington, St. Brown was motioning along the line of scrimmage before the snap, lulling the defense to sleep. When he swept from left to right and finally took a handoff from Jared Goff late in the third quarter, he had nothing but daylight in front of him.
"As I got it, no one even knew I had the ball. I don’t think the safety that was looking at me knew I had the ball and all I hear from the defense is, 'Oh, sh*t,’ from everyone. And I knew at that point it was going to be a big play," said St. Brown.
It turned into a 58-yard gain and set up a touchdown by D'Andre Swift three plays later. Swift and St. Brown combined for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 24 touches in Detroit's first win of the season. They are rising stars in the NFL and the most dynamic players in what looks like an explosive offense for the Lions. Through two games, Swift has 62 receiving yards and St. Brown has 68 rushing yards.
And neither one has been fully unleashed. Swift got just five carries Sunday as he played through a sore ankle. And St. Brown, while setting NFL records as a receiver, can be even more dangerous on the ground.
"When your running back is a guy who can do both, an explosive athlete who can hurt you in the run and the pass game, that’s trouble for a defense and it gives you a lot of flexibility offensively," Dan Campbell said Monday. "And on top of that, Saint’s got the ability to do a little of that in the backfield, which we haven’t even really tapped into just yet. So there’s a number of things we’ll be able to do."
St. Brown also delivered a 10-yard run on Detroit's final drive, the ninth carry of his career. Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson began devising new ways to get St. Brown involved when he took over the passing game midway through last season, including more touches out of the backfield. St. Brown got a couple handoffs in a Week 16 loss to the Falcons, then two more, one of which went for a 27-yard touchdown, the next week against the Seahawks.
And it sounds like Johnson's just getting started. Whatever it takes for the Lions to get the ball in the hands of their two best players -- and that's without mentioning receivers DJ Chark and Josh Reynolds and tight end T.J. Hockenson. And that's without mentioning receiver Jameson Williams, the 12th overall pick who's waiting in the wings.
But for the Lions offense, it starts with Swift and St. Brown, who need all the touches they can get.
"Those two guys are pretty dynamic players for us," said Campbell. "When you got those guys and then you got Reynolds and Chark on the perimeter and Hock in the middle, Goff’s got some weapons to go to."