The Detroit Lions won an ugly game on Thursday night. They beat the Bills 38-32 and they finished the preseason with two wins and two losses. The Lions played it safe in this game as they rested the majority of their starters for most of the game.
This was a critical game for players trying to make the team, as it is their last chance to show something to the coaching staff. Some played well, and others did not, and the staff is going to have to make some tough calls with the roster.
The Lions have to cut the number of players on their roster from 75 to 53 in the next few days. For some of the players, it is a great opportunity to put something on tape for the Lions, or another team to see.
Let's look at the Lions' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Matthew Stafford — A
Stafford was very sharp in his one series of play. He hit Calvin Johnson on a strike, and led the offense down the field for an extremely quick touchdown. Stafford is ready to get the regular season underway.
Shaun Hill — B
Hill is a team leader and a very respected player in the locker room. He led the Lions to a scoring drive on a quarterback sneak. Hill played very little in this preseason game, but he made it count. The Lions have a very capable backup in Hill
Kellen Moore — B+
Moore was very effective in this game, and he showed his accuracy throwing the football. There were a lot of drops by his receivers, but he moved the Lions' offense down the field very effectively. This was a critical game for Moore, and he responded very well.
Mikel Leshoure — B+
Mikel Leshoure flashed some great skill in this game, and he showed the reasons why he was drafted so high in the 2011 NFL draft. Leshoure has great feet and he is a very elusive player for such a big man. He made some great plays with his feet in this game. Leshoure is a threat out of the backfield and a power running back.
Joique Bell — B
Outside of the fumble, Bell had a very nice game. Bell offers a lot more catching the ball out of the backfield than Williams does, and that was on display tonight. Bell is a good running back, and he had a good game tonight, totalling 77 yards on 17 touches.
Keiland Williams — B-
Williams is a between the tackles runner, and he does not offer much big play ability. He is a straight-forward runner. Williams carried the ball three times and finished with 24 yards.
Calvin Johnson — A
Calvin Johnson is an absolute stud. He is the best wide receiver in the game, and there isn't an argument to the contrary. He flashed his big-play ability with his 24-yard touchdown catch.
Ryan Broyles — B
Broyles had a nice game, catching three passes and finishing with 54 yards receiving. Broyles continues to come back from the ACL tear he suffered in November. He has the chance to make a difference in this offense.
Lance Long — B
Lance Long is deep down the roster, but he put some nice things on tape today. Long needs to be more secure in catching the ball, but he was productive in this game. He finished with three catches and 51 yards receiving.
The tight ends were not a part of this game tonight. Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler played very few minutes in this game.
The Lions offensive line played well in this game, particularly in pass protection. They continue to have a hard time getting any push in the running game, but they protected the quarterback nicely in this game.
Riley Reiff — B+
Reiff played all over the line in this game, and he did a nice job in every position he played. The Lions ran to his side when they had the ball on the goal-line. Reiff did a nice job of generating some push and allowing Leshoure to follow him into the end zone.
The defensive line struggled in this game to get any consistent pressure and they had a hard time with the Bills running the ball behind the pressure they were bringing. The first team unit played for about a half of a quarter, and they gave up a long drive for a touchdown.
Sammie Hill — B+
Sammie Hill had a great game tonight. He did a great job of blowing up gaps and preventing plays from getting started. Hill is a very strong depth player for the Lions, and they type of player that can have an enormous impact in a smaller role.
The linebacker group had a hard time staying with running back C.J. Spiller early in this game. They also had a hard time tackling and they need to be better in this aspect of the game.
It is hard to justify any grade to any linebacker in this game, as they were playing out of their normal positions. They need to play better of the Lions are to have success in 2012.
DeAndre Levy — C
Levy moved to middle linebacker early in this game and he did a poor job of taking the right angles to attack the ball carrier. Levy will go back to outside linebacker on September 9 when the regular season starts.
Ashlee Palmer — B
This was a very important game for Palmer as there was talk about him being a player on the roster bubble. Palmer responded with a nine tackle performance in a critical game.
Doug Hogue — B
Hogue is battling several other linebackers to make the 53-man roster. He is a very interesting player, growing two inches and adding 15 pounds in the offseason. Hogue needed a good game, and that's exactly what he did tonight, finishing with seven tackles.
The Detroit Lions secondary had a rough game. They were missing starter Chris Houston and potential starter Bill Bentley, and it is hard to grade the performance of these players because of who they were playing against tonight. The Lions were undermanned in this game and it showed.
Jonte Green — C-
Green had a very rough night. He got torched in the first drive on a fade-route, and it wasn't close. Green looked very overwhelmed all night, with the exception of the horribly thrown ball that he intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Justin Miller — C
Miller looks to be a player that can't, or doesn't know how to locate the football. There were multiple times during this game when the ball was in the air, and he had hi back to it. This is a recipe for disaster in the NFL, as quarterbacks will throw to the back shoulder and Miller won't have a chance. Miller had a very average game against the Bills.
Amari Spievey — B
Spievey seems like the forgotten man, as John Wendling and Erik Coleman have been starting at safety for the Lions. Spievey is a bit of a wild-card for the Lions and his development is going to be vital for their secondary.
Jason Hanson — C
Hanson missed a 51-yard field goal and consistently kicked the ball short on kickoffs in this game. The Lions have coverage issues and the best way to help the kickoff coverage team is to kick the ball deep enough that a returner won't take the ball out of the end zone. Hanson needs to kick the ball much deeper on kickoffs.
Kickoff Coverage Teams — C
The Lions had a really strong game on special teams, with the exception of two plays in the fourth quarter. They need to fix their coverage units as these huge returns are lethal, and the Lions are going to struggle to win games consistently if they keep giving up big returns.
Coaching — A
The coaching staff had a plan for what they wanted to see tonight. There were many backups in this game, and the Lions came out ready to go. It speaks to the way the coaches have prepared the players, especially the younger players.
There isn't anything to knock the coaching staff on tonight. The Lions looked good and bad, as many teams do in the fourth preseason game, and the staff handled them well.