Detroit Lions: Week 3 by the Numbers

Dean Holden@@Dean_HoldenAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions runs after a reception against Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans during the game at LP Field on September 23, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won 44-41 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Whenever a game goes into overtime at 41-41, it stands to reason that there will be some interesting statistics.

Of course, when your team loses 44-41 in overtime, those statistics become a lot harder to deal with—especially since most of them have to do with the other team's offensive explosion.

But so it goes. The Lions are 1-2, but so are the Patriots and Steelers and a dozen other teams. It's a long season. We'll talk about how the Lions can get back on track later this week, but for now, we're looking at some pretty crazy numbers from last week.

We'll start with the toughest one to swallow:


Turns Out the Titans Can Score

The Tennessee Titans' scoring outputs in their first three games, in order: 13, 10 and 44. The Titans very nearly tripled their season scoring output in one game. Coming into this game, the Titans were dead last in scoring, now they are 19th.

The Titans scored five touchdowns and three field goals in total against the Lions. Oddly enough, the field goals were the shortest scoring plays the Titans had all game.

None of the Titans' field goals came from more than 40 yards out (Rob Bironas missed two from over 40 yards away), while none of their touchdowns came from less than 60 yards out. Combined, the Titans' five touchdown plays amounted to 374 total yards, but only 132 of those yards are actually attributed to the offense.

That's what two kick return touchdowns and a fumble return will do in a game. The offense actually scored only 23 points on the Lions' defense, which is still double their output on the season, but it sounds a lot better for the Lions than 44.


Shaun Hill is Just Fine

Knowing the Lions, we won't really get much news on Matthew Stafford until game day. And sure enough, I'm right.

But in the next two weeks, the Lions get a suddenly crucial game against the Vikings, and a suddenly perfectly-timed bye week immediately afterwards. So if Stafford misses time, there's a good chance it's only one game.

That would put Shaun Hill in against the Vikings, which would have seemed like no big deal three weeks ago. But Adrian Peterson is healthy, and Christian Ponder looks to be a step or two above adequate. Coming off an improbable domination of the 49ers, those Vikings games are no longer gimmes.

But frankly, it's still no big deal. Not because the Vikings will pose no challenge (they always do), but rather because Shaun Hill is a good quarterback in his own right.

Stafford was having an efficient, if unimpressive, day against the Titans, going 33-for-42 for 278 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers for a respectable QB rating of 102.2. And I'm not even going to factor in some key drops by his tight ends, but those could have put his completion percentage over 80.

Then Shaun Hill came in and, in three possessions, went 10-for-13 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, for a near-perfect passer rating of 157.9 (a perfect passer rating is 158.3).

But a big portion of that was a fluky Hail Mary to Titus Young, right? Alright, let's factor that out entirely. Any NFL quarterback can heave a 50-yard pass to the end zone and pray, so we'll assume that had nothing to do with Hill's actual ability.

In that case, he's 9-for-12 for 126 yards and one touchdown, and his passer rating is a lowly 136.5.

Sure, passer ratings get a lot less reliable on fewer passes, but that's hardly the point. The point is that the Hill completed over 75 percent of his passes, all in high-pressure situations, and ended up throwing for more than half as many yards in less than a third the number of attempts.

Of course, there's no quarterback controversy here. Hill isn't going to push Stafford as the starter in Detroit. But if he has to fill in for a game, well, the Lions could be in a lot worse shape. Hill is still a better option at QB than anyone the Lions have had on the roster for roughly 20 years prior to the 2009 draft.


Titus Young Watch

I'm going to make this a weekly thing until Young proves me wrong. And no, being in the right place at the right time for his first touchdown of the season on a Hail Mary does not mean Young has turned the corner.

That said, Young at least caught some passes in Tennessee. He had six receptions for 75 yards and a score, and finally stopped negating every positive play with a penalty.

But take away the miracle touchdown catch, and Young posted a much less impressive five catches for 29 yards.

It does seem that Young is getting a little more involved in the offense, but he still hasn't come close to surpassing Nate Burleson, who posted 10 receptions for 69 yards. Burleson may not have been flashy on a per-play basis, but he made clutch catches and was more consistent throughout the game.


Quick Stats

2—difference between points scored by Titans' offense and points scored by Titans' defense/special teams

-2—Lions' turnover ratio through three games in 2012

+6—Lions' turnover ratio through three games in 2011

2—100-yard rushers posted by the Lions all last season

1—Number of NFL games it took Mikel Leshoure to post his first 100-yard rushing performance

403—Jake Locker's combined passing yards over the first two games of the season

378—Jake Locker's passing yards against the Lions in Week 3

0—Interceptions forced by the Lions against the Titans...and everyone else this season

2—Teams since 2000 to win the Super Bowl after starting the season 1-2 (2007 Giants, 2001 Patriots)


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