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Kerryon Johnson ends Detroit Lions' 100-yard rushing drought with 101-yard effort vs. New England Patriots

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-09-24 12:00:19

DETROIT -- The fourth-longest 100-yard rushing drought in NFL history is over. It took only 70 games and a rookie running back touted as the possible hope to a long-languishing Detroit Lions run game to do it.

Kerryon Johnson had his most productive game as a pro and in the process rushed for 101 yards against the New England Patriots, snapping a streak that started back when the Lions had Jim Schwartz as their head coach, Calvin Johnson as their top receiver and Reggie Bush as their star running back.

After it was announced on the Ford Field scoreboard -- following a 10-yard draw on a third down late in the fourth quarter -- his fellow running backs mobbed him. The Ford Field crowd gave one of its loudest cheers of the night.

They understood the moment.

It took almost five full seasons, a streak sitting at 70 games entering Sunday night. It lasted the full coaching tenure of Jim Caldwell and three different offensive coordinators: Scott Linehan, Joe Lombardi and Jim Bob Cooter.

Seven Lions running backs had been Detroit's leading rusher in the time from the last 100-yard game, a 117-yard effort on Thanksgiving, 2013: Bush, Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and Johnson. Only Riddick -- a pass-catching specialist -- has been on the team as a running back for all 70 games.

"I knew it had been a while, I didn't know what game it was," former Lions receiver Kris Durham told ESPN earlier this year. "Jeez. That's what, six years? Five years? Wow, that's tough."

It's a question, though, the Lions won't have to answer much of anymore thanks to Johnson's effort on national television.

Detroit had come close before, with Bush rushing for 86 yards on Dec. 16, 2013, against Baltimore and Bell gaining 91 yards twice -- on Dec. 22, 2013, against the Giants and again on Nov. 27, 2014, against Chicago.

The last threat to the 100-yard barrier was Abdullah, who had 94 yards against Minnesota last season and looked primed to break the mark before being injured in the fourth quarter.

The Lions said they didn't think much about the streak, but it was something that was brought up every season, in almost every broadcast. It was tough to avoid.

"I mean, you see it in the headlines and stuff like that," safety Glover Quin told ESPN before the season. "When you're playing the game, I'm not sitting there worrying about if there is a 100-yard rusher. Then, you're trying to win the game by any means necessary."

The Lions had won plenty of games -- three winning seasons out of the four full ones without a 100-yard rusher -- but a combination of game plan, scheme, bad luck and questionable running back decisions led them to the streak, which had been the longest since Washington went 72 games from 1962 to 1967 without a 100-yard back.

Bobby Mitchell broke that streak with a 110-yard game on Oct. 1, 1967, against the Giants.

Detroit snapped its own streak nine games from the all-time mark in NFL history -- still at 79 games by the Chicago Cardinals from 1937 to 1945.

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