Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/9/11

During the first half of the season, the Detroit Lions have had guys come out of the woodwork to make big plays.  I could give the first half defensive MVP to a plethora of different guys: DeAndre Levy leads the team with a whopping 63 tackles.  Acquired just before the season, Stephen Tulloch has been the Lions’ best linebacker with 52 tackles and a key interception against Dallas.  Kyle VandenBosch and Cliff Avril share the team lead with five sacks apiece.  Ndamukong Suh leads the defensive line in tackles (24) despite drawing a double team on almost every down.  Despite all of this, corner Chris Houston deserves it most.

Houston has been the Lions’ best corner this year, and also one of their best tacklers.  Houston not only has a career-high four interceptions, but also is on pace to shatter his previous career high in tackles.  He has 41 so far this year (third on the team) and his previous career high is 60.  And did I mention he has two interception returns for touchdowns this year?  Houston’s pick six against Dallas was a critical turning point in that football game, and put all the momentum clearly in Detroit’s corner.

Interceptions aside, Houston has been the Lions’ most improved player this year.  Last season, Houston and the Lion secondary was routinely lit up by opposing quarterbacks, but not this year.  The Lions rank sixth (sixth!) against the pass with just under 195 yards allowed through the air per game.  Last year the Lions finished 16th in that category and were sixth in a different one: most yards allowed per attempt.

Houston returns this interception for a touchdown in Dallas

Houston and the Lions have come on strong this year, and some of that has to do with the fact that Houston has been able to contain the opposition’s number one receiver.  Take a look at the numbers so far for opposing number one wideouts against Houston and the Lions.

Week 1: Mike Williams (TB) 4 catches, 50 yards

Week 2: Dwayne Bowe (KC) 5 catches, 101 yards

Week 3: Percy Harvin (MIN) 3 catches, 47 yards

Week 4: Dez Bryant (DAL) 3 catches, 37 yards

Week 5: Johnny Knox? (Do the Bears have a no. 1 WR?) 3 catches, 17 yards

Week 6: Michael Crabtree (SF) 9 catches, 77 yards

Week 7: Roddy White (ATL) 5 catches, 52 yards

Week 8: Eric Decker??? (DEN) 6 catches, 72 yards, most of which came after the Lions built a four touchdown lead.

With the exception of Crabtree and Decker (which I don’t count anyway), Houston has yet to allow any number one receiver to catch more than five balls in a game.  To hold talented guys such as Bryant and White to just eight-for-89 combined is remarkable indeed.

Bowe is the only receiver to gain more than 80 yards against Houston, and let’s remember that the Lions won that game 48-3.  I think it’s safe to say the Chiefs were throwing early in that one, especially after losing their star running back Jamaal Charles in the game.

Keep it up, Chris, and Lions’ fans will be excited to see your name on the Pro Bowl roster.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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