By Chris Morgan
As Sunday’s game between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints was nearing its conclusion, it seemed like the story of the game was clear. The Saints were going to win, the Lions offense didn’t have enough to get by without Calvin Johnson, and Matthew Stafford was never going to put it together completely. Then, Stafford and the defense combined to help the Lions score two late touchdowns, and to stop the Saints from scoring anymore points of their own, and Detroit secured a big 24-23 victory. Here are the grades for this comeback victory.
Offense: On the one hand, the Lions scored 24 points and notched 344 yards of offense even without Megatron or Eric Ebron. On the other hand, the Saints have an awful defense. They have been perhaps the worst defense in the league, and the Lions were held to 10 points until that late comeback. Reggie Bush didn’t do much in his return to action, but Joique Bell had a nice game, scoring a touchdown. Golden Tate came up huge, catching 10 passes for 154 yards, most of that coming on a huge 73-yard touchdown.
Corey Fuller also made a great catch on the game-winning score, after having a drop earlier in the game. The offensive line gave up three sacks, which against the Saints is not good, but which was better than other recent outings. There isn’t much to complain about here, even if they left it late, but there also is nothing to be terribly excited about. This is about what was expected offensively. Grade: B
Quarterback: Stafford was heading toward being the goat, again, until the comeback. He finished 27-for-40 for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, as should be obvious, until that huge touchdown pass to Tate, his numbers were bad, as he already had the two picks before that. Again, this is an awful defense Stafford was going up against, and again he was at home. Sure, there was no Johnson, and this offensive line has been problematic, but Stafford has his own issues. He salvaged his day at the end, which he deserves credit for, but let’s not overreact to the last thing we saw. Grade: B
Special Teams: If nothing else, the Lions didn’t have a missed field goal in this game. Sure, Matt Prater only attempted one, and it was from 21 yards out, but beggars can’t be choosers. Other than that, it was a pretty by the books day for the Detroit Lions special teams. Nobody else really did much of anything for either team, and both punters did well. Grade: B
Defense: The Lions’ defense has been stout this year, and, by and large, that continued in this game. Sure, they gave up over 400 yards, and 23 points, so it wasn’t their best day. Additionally, Drew Brees had a big game, even though Jimmy Graham barely played due to his injury. However, aside from a couple big passes, including one touchdown pass, the defense played well. Glover Quin picked off Brees late, leading to the winning touchdown, and James Ihedigbo both picked up a sack and a fumble recovery. On the last drive, the defensive line got pressure on pretty much every drop back, and the Saints couldn’t get anything going. A solid outing. 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. .