As indicated earlier this week, I finally had a chance to watch the entire game last night on the NFL.com Game Rewind. The first word that comes to mind is “ouch”.
Gunther Cunningham can say that the defense lost the game on that last drive all he wants, but the fact of the matter is the offense and special teams blew it big time or the 10 points the defense gave up would have been nothing.
There were a few positives and negatives that I took away from the game, in no particular order:
- Cliff Avril – Finally started to show up with some pressure on Bulger, but then tried to make a tackle by the shoulder pads on the fake-FG. All he had to do was slide down and grab the ankles and he could have saved the TD. The way the Lions’ defense was playing at that point, you were likely looking at another FG attempt — or at least a chance to stop them. As it was, that was painful to go into the half.
- Matthew Stafford – the whole first half he played very well. Too bad his WR did not. On the last drive of the game and the half, he was awful — overthrowing WR that were open. Still, he showed poise and calm in trying to lead the team through a tense game. The injury didn’t do his development any favors.
- The Entire WR Corps: What the heck??? 3rd-19 to go. Beautiful touch pass to the outside shoulder of Bryant Johnson about 25 yards up the field, bypassing good coverage. he cradles it in…and lets go as he hits the ground. Punt. I counted 7 drops by WR that were easily catch-able (and a couple more they should have caught) — and 4-5 were in situations where it would have converted the first down on a drive that stalled. CJ needs to be back, but the other WR HAVE to step up and make some plays — or the Lions need to get some new WR. There were Zero drops on the TD drive — and the Lions easily marched up the field as they SHOULD have all game.
- Aaron Brown: Looked okay, he can be a good speed back at some point, but he needs to work on his concentration. That tip of the ball for the INT is unforgiveable in the red-zone like that. If you touch it with the middle of both hands, you better catch it.
- Kevin Smith: Great awareness on the INT to tackle the DB back into the endzone for the safety, saving at least a few points instead of coming up empty. He was running well, despite the lack of a passing game, before the injury took him out. He showed excellent skills in pass blocking, and also demonstrated once again that he can be a force in the passing game, stepping up when the WR were not.
- Mo Morris: He had a good game, keeping the ground gaem moving when the passing game was stalled.
- Offensive Line: They were up and down this game. Jansen did OK at LG. The line would open great running lanes for 5 or 6 plays, but then let the RB get hit 6 or 7 yards back the next. Consistency was not there. For the most part, they did well with pass protection. Cherilus had a “Little” trouble at times — but who doesn’t with him? Great players are great for a reason…
- TE’s: Great catch one play, stupid penalty the next for Heller. Pettigrew had a couple of nice catches for first downs. He missed another catch, but on the whole he has shown improvement. His blocking was exceptional. Fitz also had a good catch, but I felt he could have fought for more yards rather than hitting the ground — especially since he was shy of the first down marker.
- LB: the Lions are figuring out how to better use Peterson — and Levy’s emergence is what has allowed them to move Peterson around the field to get pressure. Levy did great in coverage, and in the run game once again. The Peterson penalty was a good call — STUPID RULE, but good call.
- The DT position didn’t do too bad. S. Jackson is a load to take down on the best of days, and Hill and Grady Jackson along with Cohen were all plugging the middle well. (well, that last drive notwithstanding)
- Delmas: The Pass Int penalty was very ticky-tack, and somewhat sketchy. I felt it was a gift to St. Louis at that point in the game. It looked like good tight coverage to me, and they were both making hand contact — in other words, playing the game! Delmas had some great hits/tackles over the middle, jarring the ball lose and driving some fear into the slot WR who were playing timid over the middle by the second half. They knew what was coming. Bulger even slid before getting a first when he saw Delmas bearing down on him. While he still has some rookie ups and downs, Delmas is really improving and would start for a majority of NFL teams at this point at the Safety position.
- The rest of the secondary played average, which was good enough against St. Louis, but is still one of the glaring need points on this team.
- Dwayne White really showed up again this game — if he could stay healthy, and the Lions can find someone to play at least as well opposite him them they could finally get some pressure by the Dline.
- Concentration — it just wasn’t there for either team with stupid penalties, and missed plays. The Lions — especially the WR — need to concentrate a heck of a lot better if they are going to compete against a hot-cold Seattle team this week.
I may toss out some more thoughts if I get a chance — see anything that I missed? (like a fake FG attempt?) Goodbye Mr. Kwan at the season’s end?
What are your thoughts on the game? Definitely read the great comments on the game-day article as well!