By Chris Morgan
Coming into the season, the concern for the Detroit Lions was that they’d have trouble stopping their opponents from scoring. Instead, their defense has been excellent, while the team has had trouble scoring. That continued in their most recent game, a loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills bested the Lions at Ford Field by a score of 17-14, thanks to a last second 58-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. It was reminiscent of Detroit’s loss last season to the Baltimore Ravens, a loss that signaled the complete collapse of the Lions, and cost Jim Schwartz his job. Schwartz is now the defensive coordinator for the Bills. He got a bit of revenge, thanks to Alex Henery. Here are the grades for the Lions in their dispiriting loss.
Offense: The whole point of bringing in Golden Tate, and drafting Eric Ebron, was to give Matthew Stafford more weapons. Well, Ebron has been non-existent, although he had a touchdown called back in this game, and with Calvin Johnson banged up, Tate is basically just replacing Johnson, not supplementing him. That has been a problem. The offense actually only accounted for seven points in this game, with Matthew Stafford throwing a touchdown pass to Tate, who had 134 yards on seven catches.
The Lions let up six sacks. They only ran for 69 yards on 20 carries, albeit with Joique Bell out. Corey Fuller lost a fumble. The Bills have a good defense, but this was a poor performance. Grade: B-
Quarterback: No matter what the Lions do, Stafford seems to be as much a problem as a solution. The first week of the season, when he looked so good, feels like forever ago. Today, he went 18-for-31 for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also fumbled twice, although he lost neither fumble. Sure, Johnson was out for much of the game, but more is expected of Stafford. Frankly, more is needed of Stafford. Grade: B-
Special Teams: This is where the Lions lost this game. No, it wasn’t because of Sam Martin, or Jeremy Ross. It wasn’t the kick return defense, or even the fact that Carpenter hit three field goals for the Bills. No, it was Alex Henery. Henery was brought in to replace Nate Freese after Freese missed repeated kicks to start the season. What did Henery do in this game? Why, he went 0-for-3 on field goals. Obviously, and of those field goals, would they have been made, would have changed the way the game played out. However, based on how the game did play out, had he even managed to make two of them, the Lions would have almost assuredly won this game. The Lions lost because of Henery, more or less. Grade: D-
Defense: While the defense only let up 14 points, and a two-point conversion, it would have been nice had they not let Kyle Orton throw for over 300 yards, much of it coming at the end of the game as the Bills marched to victory. On the other hand, they were responsible for one of the Lions’ two touchdowns, an interception return from Rashean Mathis. The Bills fumbled three times, although they lost none of them. The Lions also had two sacks, and eight tackles for loss. Detroit’s defense was up to the task. It’s just that nobody else, save for perhaps Golden Tate, can say the same thing. Grade: B+
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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. .