By Chris Morgan
Most folks were expecting the battle between the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions, a battle for the top record in the NFC, to be a defensive affair. Those people were proven to be dead on. The Lions and the Cardinals both brought their usual defensive intensity, and both teams were held to two scores. The difference is that the Cardinals got two touchdowns, while the Lions got two field goals, and thus Detroit ended up losing by a score of 14-6. It’s not a surprise, and it’s not the end of the world, or their playoff hopes, but it shows that perhaps the Lions aren’t quite among the league’s elite. Now, a look at the grades for this game.
Offense: Yes, the Lions were facing a great defense on the road. However, it was still not a good day for this offense. They gained 262 yards of total offense, which isn’t even a particularly good day passing in this modern NFL. Golden Tate had an off game, only catching two passes for 41 yards, while Calvin Johnson had five catches for 59 yards. The Cardinals have a couple top notch cornerbacks, and they won this battle.
Only Joique Bell, who had 85 yards on 14 carries and 30 yards on three receptions, had a notable game. Offensive line injuries didn’t help either, and the Cardinals got four sacks, including a couple in the fourth quarter to help secure the win. It was a struggle for the Lions to move the ball in this game. Grade: C
Quarterback: At the heart of the Lions’ offensive struggles lies Matthew Stafford, as per usual. He went 18-for-30 for 183 yards with one interception. That’s a bad day, and he threw a handful of passes that were not good throws, although the interception wasn’t a bad one. Again, a road game against one of the league’s best defenses is a tough task to overcome, but this can’t be looked at as anything but a poor day for Stafford. Grade: C
Special Teams: Matthew Prater made both of his field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, in accounting for both of Detroit’s scores. Sam Martin punted well. Jeremy Ross had a nice punt return that was called back by a dubious refereeing decision. His three returns that counted were good, though. A solid, if unspectacular, day. Grade: B
Defense: The Lions’ defense played well as per usual, although this was perhaps not their best game. Drew Stanton stepped in at quarterback, and he was able to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, including a long score to Michael Floyd. Of course, Detroit also picked him off twice. They shut the run down entirely, but they didn’t quite have their usual pass rush. They got zero sacks, and only five quarterback hits. They did have six tackles for loss, at least. It is hard to say that the Detroit Lions didn’t hold up their end of the bargain on defense. If you only give up 14 points, you usually win in the NFL. 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. .