Stewart runs by Detractors
James Stewart
James Stewart

Posted Oct 21, 2002

No receivers healthy? No problem. During Sunday's 23-20 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears, Lions' running back James Stewart helped carry Detroit to its second victory of the season with 172 yards on the ground. Check out Lions' insider Mike Fowler's interview with Stewart, and an analysis of Stewart's performance.

(DETROIT, MI)--After his 32 carry, 172-yard rushing performance, it's hard to believe that anyone ever doubted the Lions could run the football.

Lions' running back James Stewart had heard all the criticism, including one published report that suggested the Lions should just forget the running game and go to a short passing game to replace it. Stewart countered that he only needed to get the football more than 10-12 times per game to be effective.

Sunday, he went out and proved it.

"I think we got into a rhythm. It's the first time I've carried the ball over thirteen times," said Stewart in the post game press conference." I think the "O" line got used to what they were doing and the backs got used to what was going on."

Once the Lions running game got in gear, so did Lions rookie quarterback Joey Harrington, who was having his first tough day as a pro because of a blitzing Bears front.

"Joey came in the huddle and said 'It's on you'. So I knew we were going to run the ball. WE just wanted to get the first down and keep hanging in there and get closer and closer. I felt like we were in a rhythm. For the first time, we were actually running the ball a lot and the guys in the O line blocked great."

Stewart said Lion president and CEO Matt Millen's idiotic remarks over the weekend had no effect on the team. "We've been expecting controversy all year long, that's nothing new. From last year to this year I think people just have a tendency to want to doubt us for whatever reason. You get used to that. You have to stay focused and keep plugging. If I got upset every time said something bad about me, I'd be out of the game a long time ago."

Stewart's performance vaulted him into another class of running backs. Only St. Louis' Marshall Faulk had a better day rushing the football, racking up 183 yards. Stewart and Faulk both got 32 carries behind just LaDanian Tomlinson's 39 carries in a 153-yard performance for the San Diego Chargers.

With Detroit now proving that it can run the ball effectively, it will keep opposing defenses honest and allow rookie quarterback Joey Harrington to slowly learn to deal with defenses, like the one the Bears threw at him yesterday, while keeping mistakes to a minimum.

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