Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions: Live Grades and Analysis for Detroit

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIISeptember 8, 2013

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 08: Reggie Bush #21 of the Detroit Lions tries to escape the tackle of Chris Cook #20 of the Minnesota Vikings during a first quarter run at Ford Field on September 8, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions defeated the Minnesota Vikings 34-24 to open the season. Check out the final grades and analysis below.


Game Analysis for the Detroit Lions

Passing Offense: There were fumbles from Stafford and Brandon Pettigrew and drops from multiple targets, but the Lions still threw for 357 yards against the Vikings. Burleson, Bell and Bush all had over 60 yards receiving and Minnesota could not keep up with the variety of routes and packages.

Run Offense: What more could we have wanted out of Bush and Bell? Both found the end zone and the dynamic between these two will be intriguing to watch all season. The sky is the limit for a healthy Bush in this offense, and his 192 total yards today were beyond impressive.

Passing Defense: The Lions had a few early miscues, but overall this unit was solid. One vertical pass to Jerome Simpson was simply a great individual effort. Detroit’s secondary needs to improve its form tackling, but they did not let Ponder beat them, as he had only 236 yards passing and the unit had three interceptions.

Run Defense: Giving up a 78-yard touchdown to AP can be forgiven. After all, he is AP. However, the Lions responded the rest of the game and held him to just 15 rushing yards the rest of the way. Run defense was touted as a strength coming into this season and this game (outside of one play) encouraged that belief.

Special Teams: Overall, this unit was good but not great for the day. The early botched field-goal snap hurt, but Akers converted two attempts and Sam Martin averaged 38 yards per punt, including pinning Minnesota on the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Coaching: Jim Schwartz seemingly wasted a challenge on a play where Jerome Simpson clearly hauled in a reception. Why sacrifice a timeout on a play everyone knew was not going to be overturned? Still, as noted in the first half, Scott Linehan’s play-calling was tremendous and kept Minnesota’s defense off-balance all game.


First-half analysis

Passing Offense: Stafford and Co. have been moving the ball effectively, even if they have not technically scored through the air. Seeing “the process” negate another Calvin Johnson touchdown brought back nightmares, but eight different Lions have caught passes already. Deflections happen, so there is no reason to panic over Stafford’s interception.

Run offense: It’s great to see both Joique Bell and Reggie Bush are being utilized. Screens, quick passes and traditional runs are all being used to keep the chains moving. Bell's style is a perfect balance to Bush and his touchdown was well deserved. These two have 146 total yards between them.

Pass Defense: Detroit has struggled for turnovers in past seasons, so interceptions from both DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch were great to see. Christian Ponder is an average quarterback at best, and Detroit's defense has held him in check. Ponder has just 103 yards passing.

Run Defense: The defense gave up a 78-yard touchdown to Adrian Peterson on the very first play from scrimmage. It looked like “the same old Lions” after that, but eventually the defensive line settled down. Still, AP has found the end zone twice. Where is the dominance from Suh and Fairley?

Special Teams: When you spend a fifth-round pick on a punter, him being able to hold a snap should be automatic. David Akers has looked solid on both attempts he has actually been able to kick, but that mishap could prove costly.

Coaching: Twice the Lions were presented with a 4th-and-1 scenario. The ensuing plays resulted in a botched field goal and a holding call. Does the blame go to Jim Schwartz? Not completely, but at least the offensive play-calling has been superb and diverse.