TAMPA, Fla. (AP)Linebacker Alex Anzalone had a team-leading nine tackles in Detroit’s 20-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The seventh-year pro’s biggest thrill Sunday, though, was being able to hug his parents, who made the trip to Raymond James Stadium to see their son play only a few days after safely arriving home from Israel.
Sal and Judy Anzalone were among about 50 people affiliated with a Naples, Florida-based church who were in Israel when war broke out.
“A crazy week,” Anzalone said after the Lions defense shut down Tampa Bay in a matchup of division leaders.
Anzalone posted on social media on Thursday morning that his parents were headed home and his mother later posted that the group arrived safely.
The defensive leader admitted it was difficult to play the previous week against the Carolina Panthers, that all he had been thinking about was his parents.
With his parents in the stands, Anzalone was better able to focus on football and led the Lions with seven solo tackles. He also had two assists, a tackle for loss and two passes defended.
The confidence of the Lions, who at 5-1 share the best record in the NFL, is growing by the victory.
“For sure,” Anzalone said, “Knowing what the offense is trying to do. Playing the game the way it’s suppose to be played. All those things add up.”
Lions coach Dan Campbell said Anzalone is a guy his teammates look up to and rely on.
“I know that was a load off for him, obviously to get his parents back here,” Campbell said. “He was able to see them. And he just continues to play at a very high level. He is an extremely smart football player, and he is playing as physical as I’ve ever seen him. He’s playing at a very high level.”
“I think you’d be hard pressed to find linebackers that are playing better than him right now in this league,” Campbell added.
Detroit limited the Bucs to 251 yards and 13 first downs. Tampa Bay converted just 16.7% (2 for 12) third-down chances.
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