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Lions move to 4-4 behind Leshoure’s big day

By Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press –

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This was the game the Lions have been waiting for. Balanced. Complete. And thoroughly dominant.

Mikel Leshoure became the first running back in Lions history to score three first-half touchdowns since 1931 and Calvin Johnson played through a left knee injury that kept him out of practice all week as the Lions blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-14, at EverBank Field.

After a 1-3 start, the Lions have won three of their last four games to reach .500 at the midpoint of the season. They begin a crucial three-game stretch next week against the Minnesota Vikings.

Leshoure scored on runs of 7, 1 and 8 yards in the second quarter to give the Lions a commanding 21-0 halftime lead, and the Jaguars (1-7) didn’t get a first down until there were seven minutes left in the first half.

Leshoure finished with 70 yards rushing on 16 carries, Johnson had seven catches for 129 yards and Matthew Stafford became the fourth youngest quarterback in NFL history to top 10,000 yards passing for his career.

The 24-year-old Stafford completed 22 of 33 passes Sunday for 285 yards to reach the 10,000-yard mark in his 37th career game. Drew Bledsoe, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks to hit the milestone at a younger age, and Kurt Warner (in 36 games) is the only quarterback to do it quicker.

Stafford was sharp from the start for a second straight week, leading drives of 10, 13 and 10 plays in the first half.

Johnson showed no ill effects from an injury that slowed him in last week’s win over the Seahawks. He caught six first-half passes and set up Leshoure’s second score with a 38-yard grab down to the Jacksonville 1.

The Lions finished with a season-high 149 yards rushing and held Jacksonville to just 57 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half.

Jacksonville scored two late touchdowns, on a 5-yard Blaine Gabbert pass to Michael Spurlock and a 6-yard pass to Justin Blackmon.

Joique Bell had a 10-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run and finished wiht 73 yards on 13 carries for the Lions, who played without defensive starters DeAndre Levy (hamstring), Louis Delmas (knee) and Amari Spievey (knee).

Gabbert finished 27 of 38 passing for 220 yards, but threw two interceptions for the Jaguars. Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew missed his second straight game with a foot injury.

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