By Chris Morgan
Well, you don’t see games like that every week. Or ever, really. In their game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions turned the ball over four times, while generating no turnovers of their own. Teams simply don’t win when that happens. In fact, it had happened exactly once before Detroit’s game this weekend. It looked like another loss was in the books when the Lions got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with no timeouts, barely more than a minute left on the clock, and a six-point deficit. However, the Lions marched down the field to score and earn the 31-30 win, one of the more bizarre results you will ever see.
Now, the Lions head into their bye week with a 5-3 record and in the thick of the playoffs race. Here are the grades on Detroit’s performance.
Quarterback Grade: B
Early in the game, Matthew Stafford looked like a would-be scapegoat if Detriot lost. He had two interceptions in the first half that ended good Lions drives. One was not his fault, as it bounced off Calvin Johnson into a Cowboys defender’s hands. However, his second pick was awful, and it frankly came close to ending up as a pick six, and the Cowboys scored soon thereafter.
Despite his first-half horror story, he led the Lions in their second half rally, particularly on their last drive. It was his decision to go over the top of the pile instead of spiking the ball that gave the Lions their game-winning touchdown. In addition to that score, he went 33-for-48 for 488 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Overall, the numbers are big, and he made some great throws. Still, his bad interception can’t be completely overlooked.
Offense Grade: B
Yes, the Lions scored 31 points. Yes, they put up a whopping 623 yards. Calvin Johnson had the second most receiving yards in NFL history, catching 14 passes for 329 yards and a score. On the other hand, those four turnovers nearly killed the Lions. In addition to Stafford’s picks, both Johnson and Reggie Bush had fumbles, both abruptly ending good drives. Much like Stafford’s performance, you have to look at both the major positives and the major negatives. Plus, Dallas isn’t all that good on defense, and DeMarcus Ware didn’t play in this game.
Special Teams Grade: B
Nothing special happened on special teams in this game, even though Micheal Spurlock didn’t play, leaving Ryan Broyles and Jeremy Ross to return kicks. Both teams had one big kick return. David Akers made his one field goal attempt, but it was a chip shot.
Defense Grade: B-
Sure, the Lions only gave up 268 yards, but that is, in part, because of all the short fields Dallas had. After all, they scored 30 points in their own right, even though they were missing their starting running back DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys did nothing on the ground, but the Lions could not stop them in the air, where they got three touchdowns. The Lions had no sacks, and no turnovers. Not a good performance for Detroit’s defense.
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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. .