On a scale of 0-16 here is how the Lions performed in each facet of their 27-20 ROAD victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Any owners of QB Matthew Stafford in their fantasy league would probably have him closer to 16 and although he was nearly lights out, the offense as a whole struggled in some key areas. Once again, the red zone efficiency was not as sharp as it could have been. The first two promising drives all of a sudden halted at the 4 and 10 yard lines. Yes, yes field goals are points and those are needed to win but the fact that we outplayed Tampa Bay and were still down 10-6 in the second quarter can be scary in the future.
Said Matthew Stafford, “We moved the ball well, but we didn’t punch it in for sevens. That’s something we have to work on. We’ve got to be better at that.”
As for numbers, Stafford was impressive going 24-of-33 for 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It was nice to see the Lions get risky and go for it on a 4-and-3 which resulted in a beautiful 36-yard Stafford to Calvin Johnson touchdown pass. Johnson tallied 6 receptions for 88 yards and two TD’s.
Pleasantly surprising was the Lions’ run game which amassed 126 yards with running back Jahvid Best earning 72 of those yards on 21 carries. Expect to see most opposing defenses more concerned with the passing threat from the Lions but regardless, an impressive running attack will help ease the one-dimensional focus. Although the running game experienced too many “loss-yardage” plays according to head coach Jim Schwartz, overall it was a solid performance. Best is a beast.
Total Yardage: 431 yards
Total points: 27
Drawing board: Red zone efficiency, third down conversions (2-11 is high school), offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus and his outrageous unsportsmanlike penalty
At the end of the first quarter, Tampa Bay had four yards… It’s what most people were excited to see. The defensive line, appropriately named ‘Silver Crush’ performed very well harassing Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman all day (even sending him to the locker room for a few minutes) and completely shut down a physical rushing attack for the Bucs. Hard hitting running back LeGarrette Blount was held to 15 yards rushing on five carries. In fact, the Bucs leading rusher was Freeman and most of that was gained on a 4th quarter scamper in desperation mode. The home team totaled just 56 yards rushing.
The Lions defense was very active and did not allow the big play either (until the 4th quarter). Only one Buccaneer drive through the first three quarters was more than four plays and that drive ended with a cornerback Chris Houston interception in the endzone.
Then that thing called the fourth quarter came and the Bucs found life with a steady diet of passing plays. Leading 27-13 with under two minutes remaining, the Lions suddenly found themselves up only seven with Tampa Bay driving for a game-tying touchdown. The Lions defense did a great job of bending but not breaking.
P.S. Stephen Tulloch looked gooood. Nice acquisition Martin Mayhew.
Total yardage allowed: 315
Suh: 1 tackle
Points allowed: 20
Drawing board: late game passing defense, penalties (8 for 68 yards), complete game
Special Teams: 8
The low rating is in part for my dislike of the new kickoff rule (ball now placed at the 35 yard line instead of 30). As a result of changing it just to change it (although the NFL will say “protect the players”), this nearly neutralizes the kickoffs exciting and deadly potential. They might as well just place the ball at the 20 without the hassle. Needless to say, our deadly returner Stefan Logan could never really showcase his skills except for punts. In five punt returns, Logan ran for 34 yards, a ho-hum 6.8 average.
As for our special teams defense, the only kickoff that was not a touchback was returned by wide receiver Sammie Stroughter 78 yards deep into Lions territory. Perhaps it’s a blessing that the Lions special teams units will rarely see anything other than a knee in the endzone.
The diamond in the rough for special teams was none other than the veteran’s veteran Jason Hanson. He was perfect on field goals (2/2) and perfect on extra points (3/3). Even our rookie punter out of Iowa, Ryan Danahue, booted five punts and got three to stick inside the twenty.
Special Teams points: 9
Hanson: Golden foot
Drawing Board: Kickoff return defense, move kickoffs back to 30 yard line
The Lions looked impressive in a Week 1 win against a quality opponent that won 10 games last season. Oh and remember, this was a road victory which is doubly impressive. Lions are heading into uncharted territory aka success and to see how resilient and composed they are through this journey will be interesting to see. Stafford is still healthy, Coach Schwartz is still unhappy and Suh is still hungry. Kansas City is the home opener next week and after watching them get demolished by the Buffalo Bills 41-7, I don’t see why the Lions can’t be sitting at 2-0 this time next week.
As for tight end Tony Scheffler and his sword dancing touchdown celebration: 16