It’s a Hard Knocks life for Detroit, as second episode goes behind scenes of Lions’ preseason loss

Detroit Lions blew late lead in only home preseason game

It’s week two of HBO’s Hard Knocks, which is featuring the Detroit Lions if you haven’t heard by now. (Rey Del Rio, 2021 Getty Images)

DETROIT – Tuesday was week two of HBO’s Hard Knocks series, which is featuring the Detroit Lions, if you haven’t heard by now.

Although this year seems like the Lions may be in a different stratosphere as an organization, after blowing a late lead in week one of the NFL preseason against the Atlanta Falcons, they showed flashes of being the same old Lions.

“Look, that’s frustrating,” said head coach Dan Campbell. “That’s frustrating because you want to win that game. We should have won that game, but we didn’t earn it. You guys know that we didn’t earn it.”

Detroit led Atlanta 23-20 with 3:50 remaining in the fourth quarter in their only preseason home game when quarterback David Blough led the team on the field.

“They want to see us take this ball out and take three knees,” said Blough. “They want to see us run this thing out right here. We need first downs to do it.”

After Blough made that speech, he fumbled a routine snap, and the ball was recovered by the Falcons, who went on to win the game after scoring a touchdown on fourth and nine from the Lions’ 21-yard line.

“We did some good things early,” Campbell said. “But you’re going to see that in this league when things don’t go right, it’s probably your own fault. That’s the little stuff in this league that bites you in the [expletive]. It is, and it always will be. Some of you young guys, this is probably it for your opportunity. I’m not trying to be a turd, but it is reality. You got to make the most of every opportunity. That’s the reality of it. We did some really good things, but it’s always the little things. We had control of that game, and some [expletive] happened the wrong way.”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 17: David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions warms up before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field on October 17, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Barry Sanders

It’s a hard knock life for Lions fans, and Blough is indeed feeling like Little Orphan Annie after coughing up the pigskin, but episode two wasn’t all bad, as we got to see the greatest running back lace ‘em up and roam around the Lions’ den (practice facility) one more time.

“This field looks so good,” said Barry Sanders. “It’s tempting to get back out there.”

PONTIAC, MI - DECEMBER 17: Running back Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions runs with the football during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at the Pontiac Silverdome on December 17, 1994 in Pontiac, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Vikings 41-19. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) (1994 George Gojkovich)

Sanders spoke to team vice president Brad Holmes while he was on the sidelines and asked if they were big fans of the University of Michigan, especially this season, as they selected the best player in the 2022 NFL draft, Aidan Hutchinson.

“He’s one of the guys, man, you just sleep good at night, you know,” said Holmes. “He driven, wired, and all of that, so, yeah, he’s been really good.”

In a photo provided by the Detroit Lions, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes speaks at the NFL football team's practice facility Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in Allen Park, Mich. (Detroit Lions via AP) (Detroit Lions)

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Another player who has been good thus far is the sun god, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was featured heavily in the show’s second episode.

St. Brown, 22, was quarterback Jared Goff’s favorite receiver during the 2021 season, as his meteoric rise down the stretch brought optimism for the 2022 season. He is looking to be the face of the team’s receiving core.

The episode highlighted his brain and work ethic as he remembered all 16 receivers who went ahead of him during the 2021 NFL draft, which he uses as motivation.

“Ja’Marr Chase, LSU, Jaylen Waddle, Alabama, DeVonta Smith, Alabama, Kadarius Toney, Florida, Rashod Bateman, Minnesota, Elijah Moore, Mississippi, Rondale Moore, Purdue, D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan, Tutu Atwell, Louisville, Terrace Marshall, LSU, Josh Palmer, Tennessee, Dyami Brown, North Carolina, Amari Rodgers, Clemson, Nico Collins, Michigan, Anthony Schwartz, Auburn, and Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville,” said St. Brown.

He said being passed over during the draft made him the man he is today.

“I broke the Detroit rookie most receptions and yards, so 100%, I think the draft (gave me that) chip on my shoulder that I still have right now I think comes from that day,” St. Brown said.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 05: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after catching a touchdown as time expired to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 29-27 at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Mr. Universe

On the screen, Hard Knocks highlighted St. Brown’s performance, as he seemed to always make a play for the men in Honolulu blue.

His work ethic and how he trains his body is born in him as his father, John Brown, was Mr. World three times and a two-time Mr. Universe who portrayed nonstop discipline even in his elder stage.

He took a shot at the easy money sniper.

“I know I’m a father, but I’m freaking Mr. Universe two times, I know what I’m talking about,” said John Brown while training his son in the weight room. “Coaches always ask me, ‘how do you do that?’ I’m like, dude, I’m tired of always explaining this to you; you always ask that. You got to train your whole body. Kevin Durant and these guys mess their Achilles up. I have a question for guys like Kevin Durant, ‘when was the last time you did any calf raises?’”

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) attempts a layup as Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

D’Andre Swift

No one caught more flack in episode two than running back D’Andre Swift.

“I need Swift to believe he’s the best every time he steps on the [expletive] field,” said running backs coach Duce Staley. “I need him to know when he’s one-on-one, no matter if he’s running a route or he has the ball in his hands, no one can guard him or tackle him. I want him to go to Dan at halftime and say, ‘coach, I want the ball.’”

During a team meeting, Staley said Swift lacks the confidence one would need to become a superstar, and it was put on full display during game one of the preseason as he got pulled from the opening drive after two lackluster running plays.

Swift recovered with a touchdown on the drive, but instead of hitting the hole for what looked to be an easy six points, he hesitated and made a miraculous play as he juked two defenders for the score.

“Man, you scored,” Staley said. “I want you to listen to me carefully, and I want you to coach me right now. On the floor, you were supposed to do what?”

Swift mumbled something about going inside.

“Man, it’s open,” Staley said. “It’s open. You went outside. Stay disciplined as every [expletive] yard is ours and every [expletive] inch is ours. Let’s go.”

Staley was preaching the inside run to Swift throughout the segment as he kept trying to make the home run play, and it looked like he wasn’t staying disciplined.

Was Staley too hard on Swift? Did you catch the jab thrown Durant’s way? How excited were you when you saw Sanders on the screen? Who would you like to see more of on episode three?

Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (32) celebrates his 43-yard touchdown reception against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.