There was a lot to like from the Lions performance, but there were also several areas that need improvement. Matthew Stafford and the passing offense earned strong grades, while it was not a good day in terms of run-blocking or kick-returning.
The Lions are now 2-1 and have vanquished one of the most inglorious streaks in professional sports history. While I'm often a harsh judge, the big win gives these grades a decided upward curve.
Stafford completed 25 of his 42 passes, piling up 385 yards and two touchdowns. Many of his throws were laser strikes that showed off his incredible arm strength, and he was sharp on most of the slants and crosses that made up the meat and potatoes of the passing offense.
He would have earned an "A" if not for the bogging down in the red zone, where he missed six passes in a row over two drives.
Starting in relief of the injured Reggie Bush, Bell made the most of his opportunity. He piled up 63 rushing yards and added another 69 receiving yards on four receptions. Almost all of his rushing yardage came as the result of his ability to break tackles. His balance was phenomenal in this game.
Riddick lost two yards on his two rushing attempts, but neither had much of a chance for success because of poor blocking. He beat his man on a wheel route, but Stafford just missed him for a potential big gain. One catch for eight yards is not much of a contribution in his first extended action.
After the early pick-six by DeAngelo Hall, where Johnson couldn't shed a good jam, Megatron lived up to the hype. Johnson moved around the formation and operated quite effectively out of the slot. His tough touchdown reception while being flanked by three Redskins—seizing the ball from the air and absorbing a big hit before plunging into the end zone—was a play that few can make.
Seven catches for 115 yards and atouchdown made fantasy owners happy.
This was his best game in a long time. Burleson hauled in six passes for 116 yards—the best of which was a 47-yard catch and run where he was wide open down the seam. Burleson's footwork was noticeably crisper this week than in the first two games.
Broyles made his season debut, and he pulled in three passes for 34 yards. All of his work came while working the middle of the field, and he was reliably open. More importantly, he took a couple of hits and kept on ticking.
Durham caught one of the three balls thrown his way, but he made it count by gaining 33 yards. His blocking was also strong, throwing a great outside seal on Bell's touchdown run.
Pettigrew failed to catch a pass and was targeted just twice. He received substantially less playing time than he has in previous weeks, and he showed very little reason as to why he should earn those lost reps back.
His run-blocking was not bad, but it was not terribly effective, either. On the first drive, he failed to get a chip on Ryan Kerrigan that resulted in a throwaway by Stafford.
He saw more action than he did in last week's game against Arizona, which is a good sign. His first reception actually lost yardage, though, which is not a good sign.
Scheffler was quickly tackled on both of his catches on Sunday. His blocking was, once again, a non-factor, which limits his playing opportunity going forward.
Everyone will remember the leaping touchdown reception (pictured above), which was his only catch of the game. But what earns Fauria the high grade in limited snaps was a block he made on an early middle screen to Bell, where Fauria's downfield effort facilitated an extra five yards. The celebration dance improved, too. More, please!
Reiff played well against the talented Brian Orakpo. The only times Reiff was beaten for pressure were on blitzes to his side where he had to choose who to block, and I only saw that twice.
His run-blocking didn't produce great results, but after the first drive, he did well in moving the point of attack down the field.
The Redskins had a lot of success at bringing A-gap pressure, and Sims had trouble with delayed blitzes right up the gut. He was a non-factor as a run-blocker.
A week after his best game in years, we were reminded why this is Raiola's last season in Detroit. Washington nose tackle Barry Cofield repeatedly pushed him around and backwards, thwarting several Lions runs before they could get momentum.
He also got away with a blatant hold on an inside blitz, though the savvy vet did manage to draw a holding penalty on London Fletcher on Detroit's first touchdown drive.
He's living up to the "War Daddy" moniker, as he is really beginning to emerge as a powerful force at right guard. His run-blocking was almost too good—on more than one occasion Warford drove his charge back so far and so quickly that the linebackers had easy pickings when swooping in underneath to hit Bell.
This was far and away his best game in pass protection. If he keeps improving this rapidly, the Lions could have a Pro Bowl guard in the near future.
The replacement right tackle, who was filling in for the injured Jason Fox, remains the weak link on the line. Ryan Kerrigan frequently avoided his blocking efforts, and Hilliard's inability to sustain blocks in the run game were noticeable. Yet he did generate strong forward movement on the fourth-down quarterback sneak that led to the final, decisive touchdown.
The reserve lineman saw a snap as an extra tackle, which is the first time this year the Lions have run that package. They used it more than any other team a year ago, so this instances could signal more of the same going forward.
The rookie made a major imprint on this game. Ziggy sacked Robert Griffin III twice and recorded hits on two other throws. He also showed great range in tracking down Alfred Morris from behind and across the formation.
For the second week in a row, Ansah stripped the football from the quarterback on a sack, though, once again, it was marred by a personal foul on a teammate. It was games like this that are the reason why the Lions made him the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he continues to get better every week.
This marks another week where Suh's impact on the game far exceeds his box score. Two plays stand out in particular: a pressure where he frightened Griffin right into a Willie Young sack and a play where Suh hustled up the field to track down wideout Pierre Garcon.
The amazing thing is that these plays didn't seem out of the ordinary for Suh. He remains a dominant presence that deserves All-Pro honors if he can sustain it for the whole season. Also of note: he had zero penalties and made a conscious decision to not slam into Griffin just after a play ended.
After missing last week, Fairley had some rust. The most notable play was an asinine personal foul penalty. His shoulder injury limited his effectiveness to shed blocks inside. It was not his best effort.
Like Suh and Ansah, the end played a whale of a game. His sack was the result of a great first step, but it also demonstrated the strength in his legs and shoulders, which allowed him to totally control his blocker.
I suspect that he will be credited with at least five quarterback pressures once coaching tape is evaluated, including one pressure that forced an interception. Young did have another offsides penalty, though, which was his fifth on the year. Nevertheless, more performances like this will entrench Young in the starting lineup for a long time.
The most notable play by Mosley was a negative, as he earned a personal foul penalty when he tackled Morris high. It was not technically a facemask penalty, but it was definitely a penalty, regardless. Mosley did record a solid run stuff right at the line at one point, though.
The starting left end had a day to forget. Before going down with a knee injury, Jones struggled to hold the edge on a couple of rollouts by Griffin. He left the game with the knee injury and will miss the rest of the season.
Izzy saw extended action once Jones got hurt, but he did not distinguish himself positively. He looked slow in chasing down runs and got sucked too far inside on a Griffin roll pass. There was also a first-half play where Idonije got clocked in the chin that should draw a fine.
I credited him with a quarterback pressure on Washington's final drive. However, he will need to show more going forward, or else he will cede time to the young Devin Taylor.
This was not the middle backer's best game. He got caught in the wash on some Morris runs, allowing too much running room and being unable to shed the block to make the play.The Lions really need to scrap his blitzing, too, as he has no sense of timing and it isn't getting any better.
Tulloch recorded six tackles, though, and did make a nice third-down tackle down the field on Santana Moss, showing his range.
He didn't create any turnovers today, but, once again, Levy played well. Aside from leading the team with nine tackles, Levy completely locked up the tight ends in coverage, more often than not. An early quarterback hit by Ansah came as a direct result of Levy blanketing Logan Paulsen down the seam.
Where Levy was very good in coverage, Palmer was not. He allowed too much room to receivers under his watch. Palmer also lost backside containment on a couple of cutback runs by Morris, and he missed a tackle on another one as well.
The first time McIntosh was noticed was for committing a penalty on a punt return that superseded another penalty. Other than that incident, McIntosh was the spearhead of strong coverage units, recording four partial tackles on special teams.
The aforementioned penalty that was wiped out by McIntosh's gaffe was on Lewis, who made an obvious block in the back that drew flags from multiple officials. I did not notice him play a rep on base defense.
Houston allowed some completions, but was, once again, notable for his improvement at playing the ball instead of the receiver. That is a very positive and unexpected development. Overall, he pulled in an interception, broke up a third-down pass and was aggressive in run support.
It was a strong day for No. 23.
Mathis was very hit-and-miss. However, he was more "miss" than "hit," though.
He was torched over the top by Aldrick Robinson on the disallowed touchdown, and that was not the only time Mathis couldn't keep up with a Skins receiver, as most of Pierre Garcon's damage came at Mathis' expense as well.
In zone coverage, he allowed far too much room to the outside. He also earned a personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver.
Aside from an excellent pass breakup and a big hit on a third-down play, Bentley did not stand out much as the third corner. That's a good thing, though, because nickel backs typically get noticed only when they're being beaten like rented mules.
Louis Delmas is one of the most active safeties in the league. He was all over the field in this one, though, at times, it was to his own detriment.
I had him for two blown coverages, as he and Mathis really struggled to coordinate in zone. Delmas made two bone-rattling hits in run support, though, and twice made tackles on third downs that prevented conversions.
It was not the veteran safety's best day. Twice he missed tackles on Morris that allowed the Redskins back to lumber for extra yards. Quin loves to go for the ankles in run support, but that doesn't work against runners like Morris with exceptional leg drive.
An opportunistic fumble recovery saved him from receiving a poor mark.
Green played exclusively on special teams and had quite a go of it in one brief series. He was flagged for illegal formation on a kickoff, a bizarre but technically correct ruling. On the ensuing play, he absolutely destroyed return man Christian Thompson.
Call Sunday's performance a wash for Green.
The veteran kicker was perfect on his two field goals. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect; both kicks were dead-straight, right down the middle.
Martin booted a 72-yard punt and averaged over 50 yards per kick, but he failed to pin the Redskins inside their own 20 on any of his five punts. His kickoffs were, once again, very strong, and he had no gaffes as a holder.
It was another week of uninspiring return work from the return specialist. Spurlock showed a little wiggle on a punt return up the left sideline, but that was the only time he made anyone miss. In his defense, the blocking in front of him was not good, though.