For the Detroit Lions, the Week 14 game against the Green Bay Packers was a tale of two halves. They dismantled the Packers in the first half and fell apart in the second half. The Packers took advantage of a few Lions mistakes and made them pay the price. This game was the perfect way to look at the Lions season. Moments of very strong play paired with the inability to close football games, questionable play calling and extremely poor execution.
The Packers beat the Lions by a final score of 27-20.
Let’s look at the Lions’ final postgame grades and evaluations.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a fantastic first half in Week 14 against the Green Bay Packers. Stafford did not really miss throughout the first half, but a second quarter fumble cost the Lions dearly.
Stafford was accurate and on time in the first half when the Lions really forced the running attack to keep the Packers offense off the field. In the second half, the Lions looked like they had lost their mojo and could not get anything going.
Stafford finished 27-of-45 for 264 yards. He threw one touchdown pass in the game and ran in another to go with an interception. Stafford had a very bad fourth quarter, as did the entire Lions offense.
Mikel Leshoure: C-
The Lions really tried to establish the running game against the Packers, and they ran the ball on first down a lot. He wasn’t explosive against the Packers, and Leshoure wasn’t very effective when he touched the ball, finishing with 49 yards on 14 carries. Leshoure did a good job of securing the football and ran the ball hard against the Packers.
Joique Bell: B+
Each and every week, Bell takes advantage of the NFL opportunity in front of him. This week, he touched the ball 17 times and finished with 96 total yards. Bell makes a lot of plays catching the ball out of the back field. This was a very good performance from Bell as he is one of the Lions bright spots in 2012.
Calvin Johnson: A-
Johnson was great against the Packers as he was open a lot in Week 14. He found open areas of the defense throughout the game and like always, he is virtually unstoppable when teams try to cover him with one defender. Johnson is as hot as can be right now. Johnson has 48 catches, 779 yards and four touchdowns in his last five games.
Johnson finished with 118 yards on 10 catches in the Week 14 game.
Kris Durham: C-
Durham is a very big target, but it was obvious that he and Stafford were not in sync as he ran the wrong route multiple times; including the interception that Stafford threw in the second quarter. Durham did not take full advantage of the opportunity in front of him. He finished the game with four catches for 54 yards.
Will Heller: B-
Heller had to fill in for the injured Pettigrew and he did an admirable job. He was much busier against the Packers in Week 14 than anyone would have thought as he finished with four catches for 21 yards.
Tony Scheffler: C+
Scheffler had a decent game against the Packers as the Lions lined him up all over the field with the lack of playable receivers. He registered three catches for 20 yards and he scored a second quarter touchdown that put the Lions up 14-0 at the time. Scheffler is a problem for defenses because of his size/speed combination.
Jeff Backus: B+
Jeff Backus returned to the lineup two weeks ago and he has performed very well since returning. The Lions offensive line played well, keeping Stafford clean throughout the game against the Packers. The Packers did not register a sack on Stafford in Week 14, although they did get some pressure on him. Overall, this was a good performance from Backus and the rest of the offensive line.
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 Packers do. The Lions are fortunate to have a solidifying force like Sims next to Backus. Sims had a good day against a tough defensive foe.
Dominic Raiola: C+
Like every game Raiola plays, he is physically outmatched as he struggles to move anybody off the ball. The Packers run a 3-4 base defense, and it gives Raiola some sort of help on every snap. 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 had another average game. He was able to create some push in the running game, and the Lions tried to run the ball behind the right side of the line. The Lions were not explosive in the running game, but they were very effective in the first half. Additionally, the Lions did not give up a sack to the Packers in Week 14.
Gosder Cherilus: C+
Cherilus had an average game, but he did have a tough task today against the Packers defensive line because of the blitzing they do out of their 3-4 defense. The Lions offensive line did a good job of protecting Stafford.
Cliff Avril: C-
Cliff Avril had an unspectacular game against the Packers as he finished with two total tackles to go along with one sack. The Lions didn’t get a lot of pressure from their defensive ends against the Packers, and Avril wasn’t a great factor in the game in Week 14.
Nick Fairley: B+
Fairley has really come on the past month. Like he has the previous several games, he made plays in the Packers back field. He was the beneficiary of the double teams the Packers were putting on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Fairley is playing the best football of his young career. He made four total tackles in Week 14 to go along with a sack and a forced fumble. The pressure he applied from the interior of the defense was impressive. Fairley might be the Lions best defender right now.
Ndamukong Suh: C
Suh pushed the pocket, constantly forcing Rodgers to move and made the quarterback uncomfortable throughout the game. Suh was double-teamed and held throughout the game, but he still managed to get some pressure from the middle of the defense. He finished with one tackle in the game, but he did play better than the stat-line shows. Suh did force Rodgers into the pocket and into defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who sacked Rodgers and forced a fumble.
Lawrence Jackson: B-
Jackson made the most of his time in Week 14 as he applied pressure from the edge of the defense. Jackson finished with three tackles, one sack and a forced fumble against the Packers.
Justin Durant: C-
Justin Durant and the rest of the linebacker group had a decent, but not great day in Week 14. The Packers ran the ball a lot more than anyone would have thought. They ran the ball 25 times for a total of 140 yards, and they ran it much more effectively than they have at any point in 2012.
The Lions linebackers didn’t do a great job of recognizing when Rodgers was escaping the pocket, and Durant got turned around and unaware that Rodgers was running down the sideline for a 27-yard score. Durant registered four total tackles against the Packers.
Stephen Tulloch: B
The Packers tried to run the ball into the pressure the Lions were bringing inside, but Tulloch did a very good job of getting to the right gap and making good, strong tackles. Tulloch had a very busy day as the Packers ran the ball at the middle of the Lions defense a lot in Week 14. Tulloch had 10 total tackles against the Packers.
DeAndre Levy: C
DeAndre Levy was responsible defending pass in coverage against the Packers tight ends. It’s a tough job for the Lions linebacker as the scheme leaves him isolated, especially against athletic players like Jermichael Finley. Levy did a good job of running to the ball, and he registered five tackles in Week 14.
Jonte Green: C+
Green got a lot of playing time at nickel cornerback in the game against the Packers. Green has really progressed during his rookie season, as he is locating the ball and is a very athletic cornerback. Green finished the game with one tackle.
Chris Houston: B
Houston played another solid game in Week 14 against the Packers. The secondary was tasked with stopping one of the game’s premier slot receivers in Randall Cobb. They also had to try to limit what James Jones, Greg Jennings and the other Packer skill players were trying to do.
The Lions combination of pressure from their defensive line helped the Lions secondary, but Cobb did some damage, catching seven passes for 102 yards, with a long of 38 yards. Houston had one total tackles against the Packers, anchoring the Lions secondary against a very talented wide receiver group.
Jacob Lacey: B-
The Lions cornerback group was tasked with a very tough job defending the pass against the pass-happy Packers in Week 14. Lacey got the start at cornerback opposite Houston, and he performed admirably. This was a tremendously tough task for these backup players. Lacey finished the game with four total tackles.
Ricardo Silva: C+
Silva got the start for the injured Louis Delmas, and he played a solid game in Week 14. He was very aggressive while defending the run, and he wasn’t a big liability in pass defense. Silva finished with nine tackles against the Packers..
Don Carey: C+
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 Packers, stepping up to defend the run and defend the pass. The banged up Lions were outmatched but Carey performed admirably for a deep backup. Carey finished the game with five total tackles.
Special Teams: B
The Lions special team unit was effective in Week 14 against the Packers. They covered kicks reasonably well and returned the ball with some effectiveness too. The Lions missed a long field goal attempt in the game, but it was outside and not the easiest kick to make.
Lions return man Stefan Logan looks to be as close to breaking a long one as he has over the past few seasons. The Lions did a nice job of not allowing a very dangerous Randall Cobb to alter the outcome of the game via the kick or punt return.
Playing a football game outside at Lambeau Field is a difficult proposition for any football team. The Lions were in a position to win this game, and they performed admirably on national television.
The coaching staff had the team ready to play on offense as the Lions jammed the ball down the throat of the Packers defense with an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the game. The Lions look all kinds of fired up to start this game on both sides of the ball and the staff deserves credit for getting them ready to play.
The staff drew up a great game plan for the first half, but it seemed like the Lions got away from the game plan that had them in great shape once they lost the lead in the second half. They seemed to go away from what was working, and once they went away from it, they could not get it back. They looked like they lost any confidence they had in any aspect of the game.
Head coach Jim Schwartz has to take a long look at what their coordinators are doing, from their bizarre play calling to their defensive scheme. Something needs to change.