Texans vs. Lions: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Detroit
The Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans played one of the craziest football games in recent memory on Thanksgiving Day. There were great plays on offense and defense from both teams. There was also incredibly bad officiating, coaching, reviewing, flag-throwing, dropped passes and just about anything else one could think of.
At the end of the day, the Lions lost a heart-breaker in overtime by a score of 34-31. On a positive note, the Lions took another step to getting a higher draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Let's look at the Lions' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Matthew Stafford: B-
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had an up and down game in Week 12 against the Houston Texans. Stafford missed a few open receivers throughout the afternoon, and a few plays were left on the field because of dropped passes. The Lions were in a position to win a football game against one of the league’s best teams, but they could not finish.
Stafford was under heavy pressure all day, and he showed his toughness and ability to perform in very intense situations. He helped to get his team in position to win this game multiple times, and in the end, his teammates failed to execute when it really mattered.
Stafford finished 31-of-61 for 441 yards. He threw two touchdown passes in the game, and he did not turn over the ball. Stafford threw the ball away a bunch of times today, and his stat-line does not show the high level of his play against the Texans.
Mikel Leshoure: B-
The Lions really tried to establish the running game against the Texans, but they abandoned it in the second half when it was obvious they could do whatever they wanted through the air. Leshoure was effective when he touched the ball, finishing with 59 total yards on 14 touches. He scored a rushing touchdown on very tough two-yard run.
Joique Bell: B+
Each and every week, Bell takes advantage of the NFL opportunity in front of him. This week he touched the ball five times and finished with 47 yards to go with a 23-yard touchdown run. This was a very good performance from Bell.
Calvin Johnson: A
Johnson was awesome against the Texans as he was open early and often in Week 12. He found open areas of the defense throughout the game and he was uncoverable in Week 12. Johnson and Stafford are rolling right now. Johnson has 25 catches, 490 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games.
Johnson finished with 140 yards on eight catches, and he scored a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Week 12 game.
Mike Thomas: B
Thomas had a nice day in Week 12. He got a lot more playing time against the Texans because of the deactivation of Titus Young. Thomas finished with two catches for 17 yards, and a 5-yard touchdown.
Ryan Broyles: B+
Broyles really emerged as the weapon that we think he can be in Week 12. He is still recovering from the ACL injury, but his route running ability is incredible. He simply makes plays when the opportunity is there, and he is a reliable option for Stafford. Broyles had six catches for 126 yards in Week 12.
There will always be hysterical screaming over the selection of Broyles in the second round, but he is proving that the Lions made a great choice. He does things that other receivers simply can’t do, and he is a valuable piece of the defense moving forward.
Brandon Pettigrew: D
Pettigrew had a busy day against the Texans in Week 12 as he finished with eight catches for 74 yards. He had a nice stat-line, but there is a growing concern with Pettigrew. He might have the worst hands in the NFL, and he is good for a few drops every week.
He also has ball security issues as he constantly puts the ball on the ground. The drops and fumbles are a gigantic concern, and Pettigrew might be more of a liability to the Lions than a help right now. The Lions need to find a way to get his under control.
He had a bad drop in the fourth quarter and followed that up with a horrendous fumble early in overtime. The Pettigrew experience is becoming more painful to watch as every week goes by.
Tony Scheffler: B
Scheffler had a really nice game against the Texans as the Lions lined him up all over the field. He registered five catches for 57 yards. Scheffler was targeted a lot late in this game, and he is a problem for defenses because of his size/speed combination.
Riley Reiff: B
Reiff started for the injured Jeff Backus and he performed very well, considering it was his first NFL start, and the opponent was the dominant Texans. The Lions offensive line played well, as long as the strength of the defense is considered. Texans defensive tackle J.J. Watt did register three sacks, but the Lions did a good job of protecting Stafford.
Reiff is athletic and looked the part of a future left tackle. He did a good job of anchoring against the bull-rush, and he moved his feet well in the game to get to the edge of the line. Reiff played a very good game against a tough opponent.
Rob Sims: B
Sims was pretty good in this game. This was a tough test for the left side of the line with all of the blitzing that the Texans do. The Lions are fortunate to have a solidifying force like Sims next to Reiff, especially to help him along. Sims had a good day against very tough opposition.
Dominic Raiola: C+
Raiola is physically outmatched in every game as he struggles to move anybody off the ball. The
Texans run a 3-4 base defense, and it gives Raiola help on every snap so he didn’t look so overwhelmed. 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: C+
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 and Cherilus did a good job of creating room for running back Mikel Leshoure on his 2-yard touchdown run. The Lions scored two rushing touchdowns in the game, the first rushing touchdowns the Texans have given up of the ground all year.
Gosder Cherilus: C+
Cherilus was physically overmatched and the right side of the offensive line was getting pushed in constantly in this game. Cherilus had an average game, but he did have a tough task today against the Texans defensive line. He did a good job with the run blocking, but the right side of the line was a problem for the Lions in Week 12.
Cliff Avril: B
Cliff Avril had a very good game against the Texans as he finished with two total tackles along with two sacks and a forced fumble. The Lions got a lot of pressure from their defensive ends against the Texans, and Avril was a huge factor in this game.
Nick Fairley: B+
Fairley has really come on the past few weeks, and he made a few plays in the Texans back field. He was the beneficiary of the double teams the Texans were putting on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Fairley is playing the best football of his young career. He made five total tackles in Week 12, and this was one of Fairley’s better games.
Ndamukong Suh: B
Suh and the rest of the interior of the defense played a great game against the Texans in Week 12. They pushed the pocket, constantly forced Schaub to move and made the quarterback uncomfortable throughout the game. Suh was double-teamed throughout the game, but he still managed to get a bunch of pressure up the middle of the defense.
Justin Durant: B-
Justin Durant and the linebacker group as a whole played a fantastic game against the Texans. They did a good job of getting to running back Arian Foster stopped before he could get started. The Texans run the ball incredibly well, and they run play-action better than any team in the NFL. Foster went for over 100 yards, but the Lions bottled him up for the most part. He did score twice, but the Lions were pretty good in this game.
The Lions defense played very well in the game, and the linebackers did a good job of tackling. Durant registered eight total tackles against the Texans in Week 12.
Stephen Tulloch: B+
Stephen Tulloch tackled well throughout the day like he always does. The Texans tried to run the ball into the pressure the Lions were bringing inside, but Tulloch did a great job of getting to the right gap and making tackles. He was all over the field, and he played a great game in Week 12. He finished with 12 total tackles.
DeAndre Levy: B-
DeAndre Levy was responsible for chasing down Texans ball carriers from the weak side, and defending the play-action pass. It’s a tough job for the Lions linebacker as the scheme leaves him isolated, especially against the strength of the Texans offense. Levy and the rest of the second level of the defense did a solid job in Week 12. Levy registered three tackles in Week 12.
Drayton Florence: C+
Florence got the start at cornerback in this game opposite Chris Houston. He played a strong game and did a solid job of locating the ball and defending the pass. Florence finished the game with five tackles.
Chris Houston: B-
Houston played another decent game in Week 12 against the Texans. The secondary was tasked with stopping one of the game’s premier wide receivers in Andre Johnson. The Lions combination of pressure from their defensive line helped the Lions secondary, but Johnson did his damage. Houston had four total tackles against the Texans, to go with an interception. He dropped two other passes that could have been turnovers as well.
Ricardo Silva: C
The Lions safety group was tasked with a very tough job defending the run and the play-action pass in Week 12. Silva had an average performance against the Texans. He stepped up to defend the run a lot in the Week 12 game and he finished the game with six total tackles.
Louis Delmas: B-
Delmas returned from a knee injury and had an immediate impact on the defense. He is a very aggressive run defender and he does a nice job of stepping up to play the pass. Delmas looked tired at points in the game, and he finished with five total tackles.
Erik Coleman: C
This was a stiff test for the back-end of the Lions defense. They had to defend the run and the play-action pass. Coleman had an average performance against the Texans. He stepped up to defend the run a lot in the Week 12 game and he finished the game with seven total tackles.
Special Teams: C
In the first quarter, Lions return man Stefan Logan let a punt roll freely, and punter Nick Harris is not kicking the ball well. The Lions gave up too much field position in their return and punt games.
The coverage units were very good in Week 12 as they didn't allow a return to alter the outcome of the game. They don't get much from their own return game however, and it would help the offense if Logan could set them up in better field position than they have been getting.
The Lions missed a 47-yard field goal that would have won the game for them in overtime. It is a bitter loss, especially with the nature of how this game unfolded.
This was one of the craziest games to ever be played in the NFL. It was a mess, mistakes were made in coaching, officiating, reviewing and on the field. After overtime, the Lions were able to get off the field without doing harm to anyone. That’s enough for a passing grade!
Seriously, the Lions were victims of an unbelievably bad call, and a worse follow-up to that call. In the third quarter, Texans running back Justin Forsett carried the ball and was down with an elbow and a knee. The referee did not see that the player was down, did not blow the whistle, and Forsett got up and took the ball for an 81-yard touchdown.
During the play, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz prematurely threw a challenge flag because a running back that was clearly down was not called down, and Schwartz overreacted. It cost the Lions seven points, but we can all understand the frustration behind the play.
I am not going to get on Schwartz for this play, as I think the rule needs to be addressed. If I am correct, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak could have thrown his challenge flag first, and it would have deemed to play “unreviewable”. The Texans would have been rewarded the touchdown that really didn’t happen, but they would have been assessed a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
Does this seem like a rule that should be in the NFL?
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan did a better job of calling plays in this game. The Lions were not going to run the ball, and they abandoned for the pass in the second half. It was a good call to go to the passing attack in the second half.