By Chris Morgan
A win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday would have been big for the Detroit Lions. Whoever won this game would have been 5-2 on the season, and the Lions came into this game healthy. In particular, Calvin Johnson looked to be full strength, and he was tremendous in this game.
The Lions got down early, but they managed to tie the game up at 24-24. Late, it looked like the game would be headed into overtime, but then the Bengals got the ball back, and Mike Nugent was able to kick a 54-yard field goal to give the Bengals the 27-24 victory. Here are the grades for Detroit in this loss.
The Bengals have a tough defense, particularly their pass rush, but they weren’t able to trouble Matthew Stafford in this game. Stafford went 28-for-51 for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, having Megatron back helped, but Stafford made good use of him. He didn’t turn the ball over at all, and he was able to keep pace with Andy Dalton, who had a big game for the Bengals. It was the second big game for Stafford in a row against a good AFC North defense, and it was another really good performance.
Aside from Stafford and Johnson, the Lions offense didn’t do much. Reggie Bush has had a good year, but he was kept in check in this game. He rushed 20 times for only 50 yards, and Joique Bell only rushed five times for 27 yards. To be fair, Bush did catch three passes for 44 yards, while Bell added three for 29 yards. Brandon Pettigrew caught a touchdown, but this game was all about Johnson’s return to form.
Megatron caught nine passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard score. The Lions also gave up no sacks and had no turnovers. Overall, the Lions gained 434 yards and scored 24 points, a strong outing for Detroit.
Special Teams: D+
If there was any area of the game that was an issues for the Lions, it was special teams. You don’t want to read too much into single plays in terms of their impact on a game, but the Lions had a couple of key special teams miscues that, you could argue, played a big part in Detroit’s loss. First, while David Akers went 1-for-2 on field goals, late in the first half one of his attempts was blocked, and the Bengals then were able to score a touchdown, a 10-point swing.
Late, the Lions had to punt, and a good punt would probably have led to the game going into overtime. Instead, Sam Martin’s punt only went 28 yards, and the Bengals just needed two short passes to set up their game-winning field goal. Otherwise, Detroit’s special teams were middling, but you cannot overlook those two major negatives.
Like the Bengals, the Lions didn’t generate any turnovers, but they did get one sack from Ndamukong Suh. They also didn’t let the Bengals do much on the ground. However, they certainly struggled against the pass. Andy Dalton is a mediocre quarterback, but he threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns in this game en route to leading the Bengals to 27 points. A.J. Green had six catches for 155 yards and a score, which came on an 82-yard play. No big plays from Detroit, and they gave up a lot of yards. A somewhat disappointing performance.
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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. .