Lions vs. Vikings: Final Report Cards, Player Grades for Detroit
The Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions met in a NFC North battle in Week 10. The Vikings wore down the Lions defense and made them pay in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points to salt the game away. Ultimately, the Lions fell short in a game they had to have.
The Vikings beat the Lions 34-24 in Week 10.
Let's look at the the Lions' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Matthew Stafford: C+
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had an up and down game in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. Stafford did overcome a slow start to have a very good statistical game against the Vikings, as he racked up a lot of yardage in garbage time. After the first quarter, Stafford was very accurate against the Vikings, fitting the ball into tight windows throughout the afternoon.
Stafford threw a pretty awful interception in the first quarter but responded and had an adequate game. It was too little, too late for Stafford in a must win game against a NFC North division foe.
Stafford displayed his athletic ability early in the game to avoid the pass rush. He finished 28-of-42 for 329 yards. He threw three touchdown passes in the game to go along with one interception.
Mikel Leshoure: C
The Lions really tried to establish the running game against the Vikings, but it seemed to derail the offense’s tempo and rhythm. Leshoure ran very hard but never got anything going against a very physical defensive front.
He was not very effective when he touched the ball, running it for 43 yards on 13 carries. He also caught one pass for five yards.
Joique Bell: B
Joique Bell continues to be one of the pleasant surprises for the Lions in 2012. He makes the most of his opportunities each and every week. Bell rushed for four yards on one carry, but he caught seven balls for 44 yards. Bell is a reliable running back and a very nice offensive weapon for the Lions.
Calvin Johnson: A-
Johnson played another game through a nagging knee injury and he played a very good game, but it looks like everything is a struggle at this point. He found open areas of the defense throughout the game and did not drop any passes thrown at him.
Just like last week, this kind of performance goes a long way in the eyes of the team as he was clearly limited, but the effort was absolutely there. Johnson did have an uncharacteristic fumble in the second half.
Johnson finished with 207 yards on 12 catches, and he scored a late, garbage-time touchdown in Week 10.
Titus Young: C+
Young had better day in Week 10 then he did in Week 9. Stafford didn’t look his way all that often, but he made it count when he had an opportunity. Young caught a short touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Young finished with four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Broyles: D
Broyles has stepped into the starting slot receiver role with the Burleson injury, and we have seen the skills that made the Lions draft him in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. Today wasn’t a great day for Broyles however, as he finished with six yards on one catch. He was non-existent in the offense in Week 10.
Brandon Pettigrew: B-
Pettigrew had a pretty nice day against the Vikings in Week 10 as he finished with three catches for 32 yards. He caught a touchdown pass on an excellent play in the third quarter.
Tony Scheffler: D
Scheffler did not have a great statistical game against Vikings. He registered no catches. The Lions really did not look his way in the game.
Jeff Backus: B+
Jeff Backus had another very good game as he did a great job of protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford. He had his hands full with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, as Allen seems to physically outmatch Backus each and every time they play. Overall, Backus held his own against the Vikings as they had only two sacks on Stafford, none of them belonging to Allen. Backus has been great in 2012.
Rob Sims: B
Rob Sims did a nice job of keeping Stafford clean in this one. Sims was really effective in pass protection as he and Backus stabilized the left side of the line. The Lions are fortunate to have a solidifying force like Sims next to Backus.
Dominic Raiola: C+
Raiola is physically outmatched in every game as he struggles to move anybody off the ball. He is a gamer however, and he always gives everything that he has. While he doesn’t look pretty doing his job, he does manage to get it done.
Stephen Peterman: B
Stephen Peterman was respectable in this game. He helped to create a little push in the running game and the Lions did try to run the ball behind him. He was average in pass protection going up against a pretty physical defensive front.
Gosder Cherilus: C
Cherilus was overmatched in this game and the right side of the offensive line was getting pushed in constantly in this game. Cherilus was average, but he did have a tough task today against the Vikings defensive line.
Riley Reiff: B-
Reiff came in to play in the jumbo package, and he performed well like he has every game he has played this year. Reiff is athletic and it is only a matter of time before he takes a job from one of the Lions starters.
Cliff Avril: C-
Cliff Avril had a pretty average game by his standards as he finished with two tackles. He did make a really nice play in the first half, batting the ball back into quarterback Christian Ponder’s hands and tackling him for a big loss.The Lions did not get much pressure from their defensive line against the Vikings, and Avril was not much of a factor in this game.
Kyle Vanden Bosch: C-
Vanden Bosch did not register a sack in the game and he had a pretty quiet day overall. The Lions defensive line got handled by the Vikings offensive line in the running game. Vanden Bosch totaled three tackles but he had a pretty quiet day.
Nick Fairley: B+
Fairley came out of the tunnel ready to roll, and he made a few plays in the Vikings back field in the first half. This He made four tackles and a sack and helped to move Ponder out of the pocket throughout the game. This was one of Fairley’s better games.
Lawrence Jackson: C
The Lions managed to get a little pressure in the game against the Vikings. Jackson did a good job of moving the edge of the defense and helping to move Ponder out of the pocket. Overall, the Lions defensive front did not play well as they were moved at will by the Vikings it showed in how well the Vikings ran the ball.
Ndamukong Suh: D+
Suh and the rest of the interior of the defense played a fairly average game as they played well at times, but they also gave up huge chunks of yardage to Adrian Peterson as well. Suh was quiet again, finishing with one tackle.
Sammie Hill: B-
Hill is a depth player along the interior of the defense and an important part of the Lions rotation at defensive tackle. He played a lot of minutes in this game as starting tackle Corey Williams was out. Hill registered four total tackles against the Vikings.
Justin Durant: B
Justin Durant and the linebacker group as a whole played a solid game against the Vikings. They were left on an island trying to bring down a full-speed Peterson because of the defensive line’s lack of effectiveness. They were tasked with bringing down the league’s best, and most physical running back in Adrian Peterson.
Durant registered nine total tackles. Durant is quickly emerging as one of the most important linebackers in the NFL because of the number of tackles he makes.
Stephen Tulloch: C
Stephen Tulloch tackled well throughout the day like he always does. The Vikings ran to the outside of the defense and away from Tulloch. He finished with three total tackles.
DeAndre Levy: B-
DeAndre Levy was responsible for chasing down Peterson from the weak side, and that’s a nightmare for any linebacker. Levy and the rest of the second level of the defense were hung out to dry as the defensive line got owned by the Vikings offensive line. Levy registered seven tackles in Week 10.
Jonte Green: B-
Green got a lot of playing time at cornerback in this game opposite Chris Houston. He played a strong game and did a solid job of locating the ball, even though the Vikings didn't really attack the secondary all that much in the game. Green is improving as a cornerback as he finished with two tackles.
Chris Houston: B
Houston played another very good game as he kept everything in front of him. Houston had an effective day playing a very disciplined game against fairly weak opponents because of the injury to wide receiver Percy Harvin. Houston had three total tackles against the Vikings.
Jacob Lacey: B
Lacey played a lot of minutes for the Lions against the Vikings. He got caught out of position on the touchdown pass to Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. It wasn’t his coverage but he was easily blocked on the play. Lacey plays a lot of nickel corner for the Lions, and he finished with seven tackles against the Vikings.
Erik Coleman: B
Coleman got the start at safety filling in for the injured Louis Delmas. Coleman did not locate the receiver running down the seam and he got burned deep early in the game. Coleman tacked on eight tackles in the stat column because he had to help so much defending the run.
Ricardo Silva: B+
Silva had a strong performance against the Vikings, stepping in for starter Amari Spievey. He stepped up to defend the run a lot in the Week 10 game against the Vikings. He finished the game with five tackles.
Special Teams: B-
The special teams were effective in Week 10 as they did a good job of stuffing punt and kick returns. This unit was a gigantic liability earlier in the year but they have played better of late. The Lions need more from their own return unit as return man Stefan Logan has been very ineffective in 2012.
The Lions started slowly again and they can’t find an answer to what is plaguing them early in games. The staff did not make the changes that are necessary to win football games, especially games that are played in their division.
They continue to try to establish the run, and it looks to be a problem for quarterback Matthew Stafford's rhythm and tempo. The desire to get the running game going is coming at he expense of the offense, and it is something the coaches need to do a better job of fixing during games.