By Chris Morgan
The Detroit Lions had the chance to start the season 2-0, but in order to do so they would have to secure a road win over the Arizona Cardinals. The Lions had the lead heading into the fourth quarter, but then a couple of Cardinals scores put Arizona ahead. Detroit had the ball late with the chance to earn the comeback win, but they could not convert on a fourth down, and the Lions ended up losing 25-21, dropping them to 1-1. Here’s a look at how the Lions performed in the various aspects of the game.
Quarterback Grade: B
Matthew Stafford went 24-for-36 for 278 yards and two touchdowns against what is a pretty formidable Cardinals defense. He did not throw an interception, but he did fumble, and the Cardinals recovered said fumble. Both of his touchdown passes were to Calvin Johnson, one of which was a 72-yard score. Megatron did most of the work on that one, but Stafford did catch him in stride.
Stafford’s yards per attempt weren’t great, but considering the opponent, this is a solid outing for Stafford. He managed to at least avoid an interception, a lost fumble is a little less on him, and he did throw two touchdowns. Nobody is going to put this one down in the record books, but Stafford can’t be blamed for this loss.
Offense Grade: B
After a big week for Detroit’s running backs, this week the Lions struggled rushing the ball. This was due, in part, to a knee injury Reggie Bush suffered during this game. Joique Bell led the team with 31 yards on eight carries, while Bush had nine carries for 25 yards. Both did better through the air, with Bell catching five balls for 41 yards while Bush had three for 44.
Johnson had a big game after a quiet opener, catching six passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns, one of which, as previously mentioned, was a great singular performance from him as he exploded down the field with loping strides. Nate Burleson had seven catches for 45 yards. The team only gave up one sack, even though Jason Fox was missing at the right tackle position. For a road performance against a good defense, this is at least an acceptable performance.
Special Teams Grade: C+
If there was one problematic area for the Lions, it was here. While Sam Martin had a good day punting, and neither team did much in the return game, Arizona’s kicker Jay Feely went 4-for-4 on field goals while Jason Hanson went 0-for-2. Those are points that were squandered and, in a close game, maybe those field goals could have made the difference.
Defense Grade: B
The Lions had to play without Nick Fairley, and they only got one sack against a bad offensive line with an immobile quarterback. However, DeAndre Levy did return an interception for a 66-yard touchdown, which was huge. They did let up one big play for a touchdown, but other than that they held the Cardinals to limited yardage.
Alas, it was not enough for them. They gave up 25 points, but they were responsible for a touchdown of their own. While Larry Fitzgerald didn’t do anything, the Lions let the Cardinals score late when they could have held them out of the end zone and won the game. One must wonder what would have happened with Fairley on the field.
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Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com. .