Texans vs. Lions: Detroit's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 12
Detroit has made a habit of costing itself victories in various fashions. Mental mistakes and miscommunication continue to be the Lions' biggest issue, and it was on full display this afternoon.
The Lions have dropped their third straight loss, a record of 4-7 and have hindered their postseason hopes. Here are the biggest winners and losers from Thursday's game.
1. Winner: Ryan Broyles
The Ryan Broyles' draft pick finally seems to be paying off the for the Lions. With Nate Burleson done for the season and Titus Young staying in trouble, Broyles is springing off with this opportunity.
Broyles hauled in six catches for a career-high 126 yards. The playmaking rookie continuously found ways to get open with double moves and crisp route running. Outside of Calvin Johnson, Broyles is establishing himself as Matt Stafford's most reliable option.
As Broyles continues to get better, Detroit's passing game improves as well. In an offense built on big plays downfield, it's a great benefit having a chain-moving possession target like Broyles.
2. Winner: Calvin Johnson
The Houston Texans came into Week 12 with the confidence of being able to single-cover Calvin Johnson, instead of the usual double- and triple-teams he regularly sees. Detroit took advantage of that confidence and let Megatron loose.
Johnson caught eight passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. There were still a good number of "how did he do that" plays, but Johnson showed his power and ability against the seldom seen one-on-one coverages.
Usually Johnson does the majority of his damage in the second half, but he was unleashed early. Megatron caught five of his eight catches in the first half for 103 yards. Maybe they should get him started early more often?
3: Loser: Scott Linehan
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has found himself as a goat of the game far too often this season. Week 12 was nothing different as he continues to be a detriment to the Lions' offense.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a productive day, throwing for 441 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford completed 31 passes but had an eye-popping 61 attempts. He didn't get enough help from the running game, but it wasn't to the fault of Joique Bell or Mikel Leshoure.
Leshoure carried the ball only 12 times for 32 yards, including the opening-drive touchdown. Bell also provided a spark with five carries for 47 yards and a 23-yard touchdown. To those who continue to question the Lions' run game, it has nothing to do with the offensive line or the ability of the running backs.
Detroit has a quality feature back in Leshoure and a more than viable No. 2 option in Bell, but Linehan hasn't incorporated them enough in the offense. Leshoure barely saw the field in the fourth quarter, and the Lions ignored the run game even with the lead. The Lions only ran the ball at the end of their last overtime possession.
The Lions can run the football, but choose not to. Stafford shouldn't have to throw the ball 61 times to keep the offense alive. Leshoure and Bell need a better role in the Lions' offense to keep defenses modest.
4. Loser: Brandon Pettigrew
This photo describes what has been seen far too often of Brandon Pettigrew.
NFL tight ends are designed to be security blankets for quarterbacks. Reliable receivers who can catch passes in traffic and hold onto the football through contact. None of these attributes have been associated with Pettigrew this season.
Pettigrew was stripped by Daniel Manning in the first overtime possession, which moved the Lions closer into field-goal territory. The Lions' unreliable tight end also had a couple more drops against the Texans.
Pettigrew has been one of the biggest disappointments this season. Last season, he caught 83 passes with a high number of drops. This season he's caught 46 passes for 439 yards, but his drops and negative play has overshadowed any positives. Pettigrew wasn't the reason Detroit lost, but the constant drops and mental mistakes are becoming unbearable.
5. Loser: NFL, Officials and Jim Schwartz
In 2010, the Lions were the face of the controversial "process of the catch" rule. Now, they've found themselves back in the news after surrendering a confusing touchdown by Justin Forsett.
Forsett was down by contact, but a missed call by the officials allowed the play to continue. Forsett continued to run and scored an 81-yard touchdown. Head coach Jim Schwartz threw out a challenge flag to hopefully overturn the call.
Throwing a challenge flag on a scoring play nullifies the review of a play, meaning the officials weren't able to make the right call after the score. The touchdown stood and brought the Texans closer to their victory.
Both sides deserve blame, especially the NFL. The rule is made so coaches don't show up the officials, giving them more power and authority. Coaches can get caught up in the heat of the moment as Schwartz did, and he simply reacted how any other coach would. The rule is a mockery and the officials must get that call correct.
With that being said, rules are rules and Schwartz should've known that ahead of time. That touchdown provided a major momentum shift in the game. The Lions noticeably took a step backward, and Houston built hope off that drive. The rule will more than likely be discussed in the offseason, but must be obeyed for now.