Lions vs. Titans: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Detroit
The Detroit Lions and the Tennessee Titans met in Week 3 of the season and the Titans used a couple of huge plays on special teams to defeat the Lions. The Lions gave up a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns in this game.
This was one if the craziest games that the NFL has seen in years. The Lions came back from being two touchdowns behind with 20 seconds remaining in the game to tie the game at 41 and force overtime.
The Titans took the ball to start overtime and kicked a field goal to take a lead 44-41. According to new overtime rules, the Lions got a chance to get a score of their own. They drove the ball deep into Titans territory and were stopped on fourth down after opting not to attempt a field goal.
The Titans defeated the Lions 44-41.
Let's look at the Lions' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Matthew Stafford: B+
Stafford had a great game against the Titans after a slow start. He started 4-of-8 but finished 33-of-42 for 278 yards and a touchdown. Although he was efficient, the Lions lacked a big play in this game. Stafford was accurate and displayed very good decision-making against the Titans. We saw him as a game manager in this affair, and it was uncomfortable to watch as we don’t normally see him in this fashion.
Shaun Hill: A
Hill was great as a replacement after Stafford went out with a strained leg muscle. He finished 10-of-13 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, showing why he is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the game.
Mikel Leshoure: A-
Mikel Leshoure was fantastic in his first game as a professional. He looked quick and he made tacklers miss, and he helped in the passing game. Leshoure carried the ball 26 times for 100 yards. He also caught 4 passes for 34 yards. It has to be a gigantic relief for the Lions to see Leshoure play as well as he did against the Titans. He was everything the Lions hoped he would be as he was effective all day against the Titans.
Joique Bell: B
Bell spelled Leshoure late in the fourth quarter and in overtime and he ran hard with the ball. He was strong catching the ball and running it, and it means something that the Lions used him in crunch time.
Calvin Johnson: A-
Johnson was impossible to defend in the game as the Titans had no answers for him once the Lions decided to start throwing him the ball. He ran a lot of deep in-routes in front of the deep safety, and he caught nearly everything that was thrown to him. He is the game’s most unstoppable player as he routinely beats double coverage and schemes meant to take him away. Johnson caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Nate Burleson: B+
Burleson was very good in this football game as he caught 10 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Though he is not the threat that he used to be, he is very effective playing opposite Johnson.
Titus Young: B-
Young caught six passes for 75 yards and he caught the Hail Mary touchdown to put the game into overtime. He was much better against the Titans than he has been at any point this year.
Brandon Pettigrew: D
Pettigrew’s legs look lifeless as he runs with the ball. He continues the drop the football at an alarming rate and he was responsible for allowing the Titans to take a two-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter because of ball security. He was stripped of the ball and the ball went the other way for a touchdown.
Pettigrew’s fumble and drops really hurt the Lions against the Titans, and this was a bad performance for the tight end.
Jeff Backus: B
Jeff Backus did a great job of protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford in this game. The Titans managed to sack Stafford only once. Backus did not do all that great trying to give the running backs room to run, but that is not a particular strength of his game. Overall, Backus was fairly good against the Titans.
Rob Sims: B
Rob Sims did a nice job of keeping Stafford clean in this game. The offensive line was really good in pass protection and they did a quality job of giving the Lions running backs some room to operate.
Dominic Raiola: B
Much like the other offensive linemen, Raiola was very effective in pass protection but fairly poor in the running game. The Lions aren’t asking Raiola to open up holes for them, as his job is to make the calls for the offensive line. He did a nice job of diagnosing the Titans' attempts to disrupt Stafford.
Stephen Peterman: B
Stephen Peterman was good in this game, as he didn’t take any bad penalties and he made a few nice blocks. Peterman also created some push in the running game.
Gosder Cherilus: B
Cherilus was not a problem from a penalty perspective in this game, and in a tight game that matters. He did a good job in pass protection and in generating some push for the running backs to run the ball.
Cliff Avril: C
Avril had a hard time getting any pressure on Titans quarterback Jake Locker, but he was active in making tackles near or behind the line of scrimmage. Avril has had a less-than year and the game against the Titans was another game without a quarterback pressure.
Ndamukong Suh: C
The Lions did not register a sack in this game and Titans quarterback Jake Locker had plenty of time to throw the ball. Suh did get some pressure from the interior but he was relatively quiet all day.
Kyle Vanden Bosch: C
Vanden Bosch had a pretty quiet game against the Titans as he registered one tackle for loss in this game. It was another subpar effort for the defensive line.
Justin Durant: B-
Justin Durant and the linebacker group as a whole played a pretty good game against the Titans. The Lions linebacker group needed to tackle well in this game and they did. Durant had a decent game registering four total tackles.
Stephen Tulloch: C+
Stephen Tulloch did a good job in coverage against the Titans and he did a good job of tackling in the game. Tulloch finished with six total tackles. It was a tough test, but Tulloch did a nice job against the Titans. He was penalized twice for personal fouls, and those penalties really hurt the Lions.
DeAndre Levy: B
DeAndre Levy seemed to be all over the field in this game as he did a great job of tracking down the ball from his weak side. Levy finished with six tackles, the majority of them in the open field. Levy had another good game against the Titans.
Bill Bentley: C
Bentley had a pretty rough game against the Titans as he was flagged for a holding call in a critical time of the game. Bentley is a rookie, and he is going to look up and down. This was an up-and-down affair for Bentley.
Chris Houston: B-
Houston returned from injury to start at cornerback for the Lions. He had an up-and-down game as he got beat on third down a few times. Houston is one of the Lions' better cornerbacks but today wasn’t his best performance.
Jacob Lacey: C-
Lacey was adequate as the Lions nickel corner but the Lions could not get off of the field in the fourth quarter when they needed to get the ball back. When the Titans went after the Lacey, he looked pretty weak. Lacey got burned by receiver Nate Washington because he could not locate the ball, and it turned out to be a huge play in the game.
Erik Coleman: C-
Coleman did a good poor of tackling in this game as he got beat early by Jared Cook. Cook bounced off of Coleman and Cook scored on a long touchdown.
John Wendling: C
Wendling was a very active man on defense as he finished with six total tackles. He came up in run support and did a good job of tackling. The Lions would prefer to not have their safeties so involved in tackling the ball carrier, but Wendling did a nice job against the Titans.
Special Teams: D+
Detroit's special teams had an awful day as they gave up a kickoff return and a punt return for touchdowns. The Lions struggled in return coverage all day and the game turned several times because of the returns. The staff will have to look at the tape from this game and use it as a tool going forward.
The Lions were too conservative early in the game as they ran the ball and were stopped on third down, leading to field goals. They opened up the second half by spreading out the offense and throwing the ball to their wide receivers.
The staff did a good job with the game plan but the special teams are a problem and the play call to end the game was very questionable.