By Chris Morgan
Things were breaking the Detroit Lions way before they even took the field in Cleveland against the Browns on Sunday. The availability of Calvin Johnson was up in the air, but they found out he would be able to play. However, while having his presence out there on offense certainly helped, Johnson actually did not make a big impact in terms of his own numbers. While the Lions were losing 17-7 at halftime, the second half was all Detroit, and Matthew Stafford led the team to a 31-17 victory over the Browns. The Lions are now 4-2 after having secured this road win against a fairly formidable Browns team. Here are their grades for this performance.
Quarterback Grade: B+
Stafford really struggled without Johnson last week, but he certainly looked better against the Browns. This is nothing to sneeze at either, as Cleveland has been one of the league’s better defenses thus far. After a slow start, Stafford finished 25-for-43 for 248 yards and four touchdowns. He also had an interception, but that was on a tipped ball in the end zone. Without that, this would have been an even more impressive outing for him.
Given the opponent, and given the fact he threw four touchdowns, this was clearly a bounce back game for Stafford. The interception shouldn’t be held against him, and the yardage total, while not that good, suffices given everything else.
Offense Grade: A-
The Lions finished with 31 points against a defense that is tough to play against. This game was on the road as well, making things even more difficult for Detroit’s offense. They finished with 366 yards on the day. Reggie Bush, much like Stafford, saw a return to old form. He rushed 17 times for 78 yards, and had four catches for 57 yards and a score. However, the big star on the day was Joseph Fauria. Fauria, the undrafted rookie who got more playing time due to an injury to Tony Scheffler, only caught three passes, but those passes went for 34 yards and three touchdowns. A perfect day for Fauria.
Detroit only had the one turnover, and they only let up one sack. When all factors are considered, this was arguably their best offensive performance of the season so far.
Special Teams Grade: B
The Lions only attempted one field goal, but David Akers connected from 51 yards on that attempt. He also converted all four of his extra point attempts. Detroit didn’t get much out of the return game, but they held the Browns to negative yards on punt returns. Sam Martin punted well, and the Lions downed three punts inside Cleveland’s 20-yard line. Overall, a solid performance.
Defense Grade: B+
While the Browns did generate 400 yards of offense, they were also held to a mere 17 points. However, the Browns also have Brandon Weeden under center, and very little talent at running back. That being said, they are not without weapons, and Detroit’s defense did make some big plays. They picked up two sacks on the largely immobile Weeden, and DeAndre Levy picked up two interceptions as well, including one late that all but sealed the game. The Lions weren’t quite as good on defense as they were on offense, but they were still plenty impressive.
For more Lions news and updates, visit Lions Central.
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. .