Colts vs. Lions: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Detroit

Scott BischoffCorrespondent IIDecember 2, 2012

Colts vs. Lions: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Detroit

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    The Lions and Colts met in a Week 13 matchup featuring two young, very talented quarterbacks. The scoreboard got a workout in the first half, and the Lions defense stiffened in the second half to slow the Colts passing attack. The Lions were up big in the fourth quarter, but failed at the end of the game.

    It was a very exciting football game that displayed several big plays from each team’s passing attack, none bigger than the Andrew Luck to Donnie Avery play to win the game. It got very tight at the end of the game, and the Colts made a few plays to win the game, reminding us all of what the Lions did to other teams in 2011.

    The Colts scored a touchdown with no time left and they beat the Lions 35-33 in a dramatic, high scoring affair.

    Let’s look at the Lions final postgame grades and evaluations.

Quarterbacks

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    Matthew Stafford: B+

    Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a fantastic in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts. Stafford did not really miss throughout the afternoon, but a few plays were left on the field because of dropped passes.

    Stafford was accurate and on time all day as he consistently hit his receivers when they were open. Stafford had one of his better games of the 2012 season, shredding the Colts secondary on a consistent basis throughout the game.

    Stafford finished 27-of-46 for 313 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and one interception in the game. Stafford had his receivers drop a few balls today, but his stat-line still shows the high level of his play against the Colts.

Running Backs

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    Mikel Leshoure: C+

    The Lions really tried to establish the running game against the Colts, and they ran the ball on first down a lot. He wasn’t explosive against the Colts, and Leshoure wasn’t very effective when he touched the ball, finishing with 57 yards on 21 carries. He scored a rushing touchdown on a tough six-yard run. Leshoure also caught two balls for 16 yards.

    Joique Bell: B+

    Each and every week, Bell takes advantage of the NFL opportunity in front of him. This week, he touched the ball 10 times and finished with 102 yards to go with a long 67-yard run in the fourth quarter. This was a very good performance from Bell.

Wide Receivers

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    Calvin Johnson: A

    Johnson was awesome against the Colts as he was open early and often in Week 13. He found open areas of the defense throughout the game and he was uncoverable. Johnson and Stafford are rolling right now. Johnson has 38 catches, 661 yards and four touchdowns in his last four games.

    Johnson finished with 171 yards on 13 catches, and he scored a 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the Week 13 game.

    Mike Thomas: D

    Thomas had a down day in Week 13. He got a lot more playing time against the Colts because of the deactivation of Titus Young and the injury to Broyles. Thomas had a case of the drops today, and they were costly. Thomas finished with one catch for no yards..

    Ryan Broyles: N/A

    Broyles was injured early in the first quarter and did not return to the game.

Tight Ends

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    Brandon Pettigrew: B

    Pettigrew had a busy day against the Colts in Week 13 as he finished with three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Pettigrew had a better day from a ball security perspective, as he did not fumble the ball.

    He has had ball security issues and the drops and fumbles are a gigantic concern, and Pettigrew might be more of a liability to the Lions than a help right now. Pettigrew had a good game in Week 13 against the Colts.

    Tony Scheffler: B

    Scheffler had a really nice game against the Colts as the Lions lined him up all over the field with the lack of playable receivers. He registered three catches for 55 yards. Scheffler was targeted a lot late in this game, and he is a problem for defenses because of his size/speed combination.

Offensive Line

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    Jeff Backus: B

    Jeff Backus returned to the lineup and and he performed very well. The Lions offensive line played well, keeping Stafford clean throughout the game. The Colts did not register a sack on Stafford in Week 13, although they did get some pressure in him.

    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 Colts do. The Lions are fortunate to have a solidifying force like Sims next to Backus. Sims had a good day against a team they should have done well against.

    Dominic Raiola: C+

    Raiola is physically outmatched in every game as he struggles to move anybody off the ball. The
    Colts 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 average in this game. He struggled to create any push in the running game and the Lions really tried to run the ball behind the right side of the line. The Lions had a hard time running the ball against a team they should have been able to expose.

    Gosder Cherilus: C+

    Cherilus had an average game, but he did have a tough task today against the Colts defensive line because of the blitzing they do out of their 3-4 defense. The Lions did not fare well in Week 13 trying to run the ball, but they did a good job of protecting Stafford.

Defensive Line

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    Cliff Avril: C

    Cliff Avril had a decent, but not spectacular game against the Colts as he finished with two total tackles along with one sack and a forced fumble. The Lions didn’t get a lot of pressure from their defensive ends against the Colts, and Avril wasn’t a great factor in the game in Week 13.

    Nick Fairley: B+

    Fairley has really come on the past few weeks, and he made a few plays in the Colts back field. He was the beneficiary of the double teams the Colts were putting on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Fairley is playing the best football of his young career. He made three total tackles in Week 13, and the pressure he applied from the interior of the defense was impressive.

    Ndamukong Suh: A-

    Suh and the rest of the interior of the defense played a great game against the Colts in Week 13. They pushed the pocket, constantly forced Luck 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.

    This was one of Suh’s better games in his young career, as he was a force both defending the run and getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

    Kyle Vanden Bosch: C-

    Much like Avril’s game, Vanden Bosch wasn’t a big factor as the Lions didn’t get much production from their defensive ends. Vanden Bosch finished with two tackles in Week 13.

Linebackers

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    Justin Durant: C+

    Justin Durant and the rest of the linebacker group were very quiet in Week 13. The Colts really only ran the ball 15 times for 54 yards. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck scrambled for 33 yards on three carries.  The Lions defense played pretty well in the game, but the linebackers didn’t do a great job of tackling. Durant registered two total tackles against the Colts.

    Stephen Tulloch: B-

    The Colts tried to run the ball into the pressure the Lions were bringing inside, but Tulloch did a good job of getting to the right gap and making tackles when they did run it. Tulloch had a quiet day as the Colts really didn’t run much and they threw the ball deep. He finished with three total tackles.

    DeAndre Levy: C-

    DeAndre Levy was responsible defending pass in coverage against the Colts tight ends. It’s a tough job for the Lions linebacker as the scheme leaves him isolated, especially against athletic players. Levy got torched on a beautiful back-shoulder throw from Luck to tight end Coby Fleener for a 26-yard touchdown. Levy registered three tackles in Week 13.

Secondary

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    Drayton Florence: D+

    Florence got a lot of playing time at cornerback in the game against the Colts. Florence got burned by allowing a Colts receiver to get behind him late in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 42-yard touchdown pass from Luck to receiver LaVon Brazil. It was a very costly mistake. Florence finished the game with two tackles and an interception.

    Chris Houston: B-

    Houston played another decent game in Week 13 against the Colts. The secondary was tasked with stopping one of the game’s premier wide receivers in Reggie Wayne. They also had to try to limit what speedster T.Y. Hilton could do against them.

    The Lions combination of pressure from their defensive line helped the Lions secondary, and Wayne was held to four catches. Hilton did some damage, mainly on the 60-yard catch and run. Houston had six total tackles against the Colts, anchoring the Lions secondary against a very talented wide receiver group.

    Jacob Lacey: C

    The Lions cornerback group was tasked with a very tough job defending the pass against the pass-happy Colts in Week 13. Lacey wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful either. This was a tremendously tough task for these backup players. Lacey finished the game with five total tackles.

    Louis Delmas: C+

    Delmas played a pretty quiet game by his standards in Week 13.  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 failed to wrap up running back Vick Ballard which led directly to a 11-yard rushing touchdown. Delmas finished with three tackles against the Colts.

    Don Carey: B-

    This was a stiff test for the back-end of the Lions defense. They had to defend the pass against a team that was spread out and happy to throw the ball. Carey had a good performance against the Colts, stepping up to defend the run and defend the pass. The Lions were outmatched but Carey performed admirably for a deep backup. Carey did pick off two Luck passes in the game and he finished the game with seven total tackles.

Special Teams

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    Special Teams: B

    The special teams units played a very strong game against the Colts, defending kicks and converting field goals. Kick returner Stefan Logan looked like he was close to breaking a long return in the game.

    The Lions got a very good performance from punter Nick Harris, and kicker Jason Hanson which allowed their coverage units to do a solid job of limiting a dangerous return game.

Coaching

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    Coaching — C

    The staff had the Lions ready to play out of the chute, and the team played a strong football game throughout the afternoon. The Lions did not make a good defensive adjustment coming out for the second half as the Colts drove the ball for an 80-yard score to start the third quarter.

    The offensive play calling got a little conservative in the middle of the fourth quarter, as the Lions settled on running the ball instead of staying aggressive and throwing the ball. The Lions settled for a field goal when they could have driven a dagger to end the game. It seemed like the right call at the time, but it proved costly.

    Unfortunately for the Lions, the defensive line looked out of gas at a horrendous time and the Colts caught fire, scoring two touchdowns in the game's final moments. It is reminiscent of what the Lions did to teams in 2011.