Six months after his selection in the first round was loudly scrutinized, Jahmyr Gibbs was celebrating in the Ford Field stands.
Gibbs broke loose and broke out with the best showing of his rookie campaign, highlighted by a 27-yard touchdown run that propelled the Detroit Lions to a 26-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.
“You could tell he was feeling it,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Gibbs. “Every week he’s just gotten a little bit better and a little bit better. I thought last week was his best game, and this week certainly surpassed that. I think the more he gains his own confidence in his own abilities in this league, he’s just going to continue to grow. And I think this was kind of the tip of the iceberg, if you will, for what he’s able to do and going to be able to do. Really proud of him.”
Gibbs’ 189 scrimmage yards were greater than the sum of the Raiders’ offensive parts, as Las Vegas totaled just 157 yards of offense. The young man rumbled for a season-high 152 yards on 26 attempts, with his 27-yard scoring run putting Detroit in the driver’s seat with a 23-14 lead in the third quarter.
Gibbs didn’t stop in the end zone, as he continued into the stands, where he celebrated among the Lions faithful.
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Taken 12th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, Gibbs’ selection was a head-scratcher to many, but on Monday night he broke out and seized the opportunity to be a workhorse with Lions stablemate David Montgomeryon the mend. As the Lions rebounded from a disastrous loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, Gibbs and Co. improved to 6-2 and did so with a massive impact made by Detroit’s so-far superb rookie class. Gibbs’ fellow first-rounder, rookie Jack Campbell had four tackles, while second-rounder Brian Branchhad six tackles and tight end Sam LaPorta, also a second-round selection, had a touchdown catch and a team-high eight receptions.
This is a new-age pride of lions, keyed by the 2023 class meshing with burgeoning stars Aidan Hutchinsonand Amon-Ra St. Brown.
In a game in which the passing games on both sides were struggling more often than not, the Gibbs-led Lions rushing attack won the night, producing 222 yards on the ground.
“We felt like there was some things that we could do,” Campbell said of running the ball. “And we wanted to get Gibbs going. We wanted to be able to establish the run.”
It was a perfect time and place for Gibbs to break out.
Gibbs, who became the first running back to have more yards than the team they were facing since the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Pollardin Week 11 of last year, nearly doubled his previous best rushing output of 80 yards in Week 3. He did it with flash and substance, as the 21-year-old out ran the Raiders defense and likewise gained the hard yards.
“We’ve never felt like he was just an outside back,” Campbell said. “The allure of some of the outside stuff is his speed, but sometimes you can use his speed to go downhill right now. It’s a little bit quicker to go here than it is here and then turn back up. So, no, we don’t feel like he’s some finesse back, that that’s not his deal and he runs on his tippy toes. We think he can do it all. We think he’s a pretty good gun runner, certainly he can run out of the dot. We feel like he’s pretty versatile that way.”
Playing in their first Monday night game since 2018, the Lions ran to their first Monday victory since 2017 and their initial MNF triumph at home since 2014.
These are not your father’s Lions, and Gibbs took center stage as a shining example of the youth — and talent — movement feeding that narrative.
The Alabama product became only the fourth Lions rookie back — joining Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, franchise legend Billy Sims and Kevin Jones — to rush for 150-plus yards and a score a rushing TD in a game. Sanders and Sims each went on to win the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Just where Gibbs and the Lions go remains to be seen, but the first-year rusher added plenty more promise and excitement to the equation on Monday night.
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