The Detroit Lions enter the final week with an 8-8 record after a huge Week 17 win over the Chicago Bears. Rookie pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston are a huge reason why.
Hutchinson improved his sack total to 7.5 on the year with half a sack Sunday. Meanwhile, Houston went off for three sacks to move ahead of the number two overall pick with eight on the season.
With these totals, Hutchinson and Houston made history. They are the first rookie pass rush duo to each record at least seven sacks in a season since sacks became a stat in 1982.
Many expected Hutchinson to play at a high level. The former Michigan Wolverine joined the Lions with a lot of hype given his draft position, and he has certainly delivered on that hype.
For Houston, his story is quite the opposite. A sixth-round pick out of Jackson State, the 24-year-old didn't even make the Lions out of training camp. He didn't debut until Thanksgiving against the Buffalo Bills, where he had two sacks against Josh Allen.
Now, the Jackson State product paces all rookies in sacks. Furthermore, he has set the record for most sacks in a player's first six career games. All of this stems from a veteran's mindset, according to one teammate.
“This is their first year, man. They just got onto campus, and they’re balling. It’s crazy,” Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill said recently. “When talking to them, hanging with them, you wouldn’t know they’re rookies or the typical rook. They act like they’ve been here before, and they play like they’ve been here before too.”
The Lions travel to Lambeau Field for a game against the Packers next week. It's their most important game in a while, as they attempt to clinch a playoff birth for the first time since 2016.