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Determined in Detroit
How can a team play better than expected and still lose the game?
I knew that Matthew Stafford and his WRs would put up a lot of points, but I didn’t expect the defense to keep the game close at all. And it was very, very close in the first half.
Funny how if a team can’t win in the second half, everyone talks about how awful it was in the whole game.
The Detroit Lions shut down the New Orleans deep ball and forced the Saints into pushing the aforementioned rushing attempts.
The defensive line forced Drew Brees into a fumble, which it then recovered.
The most prolific passer in the NFL could not get clicking, and the score at halftime was 14-10. In favor of Detroit.
As for that Lions offense, Calvin Johnson is one of those rare talents who cannot be stopped.
Everyone on the field, in the stands and out in TV Land knew he was going to get the ball. And he still reached over two defenders and caught it. More than once.
As for QB Matthew Stafford—who is better? Brady, two Mannings, Brees, Rodgers, Rivers? That makes him seventh at the least. In his third season. I’d say he is tied with Matt Ryan—with a stronger arm.
Stafford is trying to do for Detroit what Brees did for New Orleans, and he is on his way to doing it.
Both of Detroit's lines were winning "the trenches." Detroit was regularly shoving Saints linemen into Brees’ face, while Matthew Stafford could have gotten a shave back there in the pocket, he had so much time. (Shaving is something I would advocate, by the way, Matthew.)
In the first half, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan laid out a lovely game plan. He dialed up trick plays and obscure plays. And he ran the football. Kevin Smith was doing fine and should have gotten the ball more deeply into the second quarter.
However, I must quibble with the QB sneak choices. Seriously? With a guy making pre-lockout, overall-No.-1-draft-pick money? Who lost two seasons due to injury? We need to rethink that strategy.
What impressed me most in the first half was the lack of undisciplined penalties. The coaches must have gotten the point into the Lions' heads because the young team played much more like grown-ups. In the first half.
And in the interests of competitive fairness, I must say that the quick whistle and general screw-up of that Saints fumble cost Detroit an almost certain TD.
That play may have made all the difference.
Because the second-half Lions completely reverted to what I did expect.
The defense seemed to run out of energy and got absolutely filleted by Drew Brees.
There has been a lot of criticism over the dropped would-be interceptions, but the D-line could not even breathe on No. 9.
And if he has time, you might as well hit the showers and just let the Saints run up and down the field and put up points.
Because that is what happened. That is what always happens when Brees can survey the field: embarrass your DBs and deliver strikes.
But that first half can be a shining beacon of better things to come for Motor City fans.
Moving closer to the winner, we come to…