Kenny Golladay got wide open and Blough let the pass arc high in the air. By the time it came down, no one in the Chicago Bears‘ secondary was within 5 yards of the receiver, and he sprinted the rest of the way, scoring a 75-yard touchdown and sending people around the country to Google the undrafted rookie thrower from Purdue.
Yes, the Lions dropped their fifth straight game Thursday, losing to Chicago, 24-20, but in a loss, Blough provided Detroit somewhat of a win. Starting him on short notice after Jeff Driskel’s hamstring didn’t get better and without a full practice to work through first-team reps (because Detroit used walk-throughs on a short week), Blough handled himself well.
That’s partly a credit to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s gameplan for the 24-year-old and how the team implemented ways to make him successful. It’s also a testament to how the rookie could handle the spotlight while injured starting quarterback Matthew Stafford helped him, constantly coaching him on the sidelines between series.
Blough didn’t look out of place. He was effective with what he was asked to do in Detroit’s offense. He read well. He extended plays with his elusiveness in the pocket, ducking in and around Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. He didn’t force passes but wasn’t afraid to take deeper shots.
Blough showed a dash of touch with enough arm strength to get the ball sufficiently downfield. Stafford he is not. But he was capable — and considering Blough was a complete unknown entering Thanksgiving, that’s an overall win for him.
Blough had never thrown a pass for the Lions, even in preseason because Detroit traded for him at the cutdown deadline. Now, after completing 22 of 38 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and a desperation interception on Detroit’s final offensive play, he looks like he has a chance to be a serviceable option until Stafford returns — or at least cause Detroit to question about who to go with, him or Driskel, during that time.
Buy Bo Scarbrough as a runner: He has done it for three weeks in a row now, against defenses good and bad, turning into the type of rusher Matt Patricia wants in his backfield. Scarbrough is a between-the-tackles bruiser who also has enough speed to pick up big runs when needed, gaining 83 yards on 21 carries. For the second straight week he had a double-digit yard rush called back by penalty, but he’s a smart runner who rarely loses yardage as long as the blocking is there. The past three weeks, he’s played his way not only into a starting role in 2019 but likely a place alongside Kerryon Johnson in the backfield in 2020 as well. He is essentially what the Lions had wanted LeGarrette Blount and C.J. Anderson — Detroit’s power backs the past two seasons — to be.
Bold prediction for next week: Blough earns himself another start against the Minnesota Vikings. The rookie wasn’t exceptional, but he made good decisions and showed enough elusiveness in the pocket that he can grow from. At this point, the Lions have seen what they have in Driskel and are going nowhere the rest of this season at 3-8-1. It could be worth giving Blough another start in a very tough situation, on the road against Minnesota.
Eye-popping stat: More of a career accomplishment, but Marvin Jones Jr. surpassed 5,000 career receiving yards Thursday after entering the day 39 yards short of the mark. He had three catches for 40 yards, including his ninth touchdown of the season. Despite playing with Blough, Jones was active in the offense, targeted six times.