Aidan Hutchinson was the number two overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and so far the former Dearborn Divine Child High School and Michigan Wolverines standout has lived up to expectations at the defensive end position — and then some.
With the bright lights on and the Green Bay Packers vying for a playoff spot during Sunday night’s showdown with the Detroit Lions, Hutchinson saved one of his best performances for last, staking his claim for a chance at the Rookie of the Year Award in Detroit’s final game.
Prior to notching two sacks against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Hutchinson’s introduction was played by the NBC broadcast team, during which he took a not-so-subtle jab at the Wolverines’ chief rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Aidan Hutchinson intro last night was unmatched ? pic.twitter.com/huXR2upG5l
— Swanky Wolverine (@swankywolverine) January 9, 2023
Hutchinson’s introduction caught the eye of diehard Michigan fans across the state and beyond, although it was overshadowed by running back Jamaal Williams’ reference to the Japanese anime cartoon Naruto during his own introduction that had people talking nationwide, wondering exactly what the former Packers star said.
Jamaal Williams ??? pic.twitter.com/TLAomhCyEG
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 9, 2023
When it was all said and done, the Lions had beaten the Packers by a final score of 20-16, securing their first winning record since a 9-7 campaign under former head coach Jim Caldwell in 2017.
Hutchinson tallied three tackles on the evening including the aforementioned two sacks, and was later double-teamed as the Packers’ offensive coaches took it upon themselves to limit the impact “Hutch” had on the pass rush, and the game.
Other Lions stepped up, including rookie safety Kerby Joseph, who became the first NFL player to intercept Rodgers three times in a single season.
Hutchinson finished off the team’s signature win of the 2022-2023 season by performing the Lambeau Leap on behalf of the large contingent of Lions fans who made the trek to Wisconsin to cheer the team on.
Aidan Hutchinson caps off his Defensive Rookie of the Year season with a Lambeau Leap ??? pic.twitter.com/DpWqZN15lI
— Sam Ali (@SamAliSports) January 9, 2023
The Lions were eliminated from the playoffs earlier in the day as Seattle defeated the Los Angeles Rams in overtime, but for Hutchinson, Williams, Head Coach Dan Campbell and the Lions, the final result of the season did not put a damper on one of the most memorable team performances in franchise history.
Expectations for Aidan Hutchinson were HIGH.
The hometown kid has exceeded them. Heck of a rookie year. pic.twitter.com/d6hNo3sBFA
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 9, 2023
Whether or not the Lions can build on their winning ways next season remains to be seen, but for now, this season, Hutchinson’s confidence, and the team’s performances will be savored until next fall — a letdown for Lions fans who expected playoffs in year two of Campbell’s regime, but a revelation of joy, excitement, and celebration for everyone else.