One game, two sacks for James Houston IV. (Photo credit: Detroit Lions)
It’s been a long journey to the big stage for James Houston IV.
After tearing his ACL in high school, sitting out a year at Florida, playing sporadically for three years for the Gators, and then exploding onto the scene at Jackson State (finishing second in the FCS with 16.5 sacks in 2021), Houston was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He did not initially make the Lions’ 53-man roster following the preseason; the Lions did, though, like his game enough to keep him on their practice squad to begin the season. And Houston toiled away on the practice squad for the first half of the 2022 season.
But after a few injuries to other defensive players and Houston consistently impressing coaches with his natural explosiveness as a pass rusher, intelligence, and pure grit, the Lions could wait no longer. They made the move on Wednesday, activating Houston to their main roster and suiting him up for their Thanksgiving Day tilt against the Buffalo Bills.
It’s safe to say the move paid off. Because James Houston IV was everywhere for the Lions on this day. It was, to be sure, a debut to remember.
Houston’s day started off by saving his own teammate. Lions punt returner Kalif Raymond caught a punt two minutes into the game and returned it up the sideline, but fumbled. Houston- in on the punt block team- saw the loose ball and dove on top of it. The Lions would score a touchdown on that drive.
But the day for James Houston IV was just getting started.
With twelve seconds to go in the first half, Bills QB Josh Allen had driven his team down the field to the Lions’ 20, looking for a touchdown to end the half. He didn’t get it. Houston came flying off the top of the screen (past the right tackle), slipped past both the running back (Devin Singletary) trying to pick up the blitz and right tackle Spencer Brown and buried Allen for a drive-killing sack. That relegated the Bills to a field goal.
Houston must have decided that one good sack deserved another. Two drives later, Allen had driven his Bills down inside Lions’ territory again looking for points. And again, the man dubbed “The Problem” was there to snuff it out.
This time, the Florida-and-Jackson-State product came off the left side of the line of scrimmage, giving David Quessenbury a little stutter-and-explode move to geet to the outside of him, coming back around to the QB the long way. Allen had been flushed out of the pocket and escaped the first wave of Lions, but couldn’t escape Houston coming in from the back.
And thus, James Houston IV had his second career sack!
Houston’s two sacks in his maiden voyage with the Lions makes him the franchise’s first player to register more than one sack in his debut with the Lions.
Here’s hoping it’s just the start of a long, prosperous career in the Motor City for James Houston IV.