The Detroit Lions hosted the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football at Ford Field. After seizing a late lead, the Lions fell to the Ravens 18-16 thanks to a 61-yard field goal from Justin Tucker and a subsequent interception from Matthew Stafford.
With the loss, the Lions now sit at 7-7. They lost control of their own playoff destiny, now trailing both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. It was the fourth loss in five games for the Lions after a promising 6-3 start.
Detroit stays at home to face the 5-9 New York Giants next Sunday. It's another must-win game to keep the playoff fire flaming with reality.
A few quick notes about the grading criteria:
- Grades are scaled to player expectations. For example, Devin Taylor recording a sack and a tackle for loss will rate higher than Ndamukong Suh doing those same things.
- Impact plays weigh heavily, both positive and negative. Touchdowns, key stops on third downs, contested catches to extend drives and forced turnovers are huge positives.
- Penalties automatically cost a half-grade, unless the infraction is a clear fabrication on the part of the officiating crew. It's surprising and disturbing how frequently that seems to happen.
*All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
It was not Stafford's finest night. He missed several throws due to poor mechanics, including on his first interception.
Also, he often showed impatience and rushed throws instead of waiting for better options to present themselves. The third and final interception was just one of many examples.
Stafford's final stat line:
On a night where the Lions needed him to come up big, Stafford failed to deliver.
Bush kicked off the scoring with an excellent 14-yard run, bouncing the play outside and around the Ravens defense.
He had a few other runs, mostly in the first quarter, where he attacked the hole and picked up strong yardage. Almost half his yards (42 of 86) came in that first quarter.
Bush was clearly laboring with some lingering injuries, notably the calf issue that kept him out of last week's game. He gets bonus points for toughness.
Like Bush, Bell started strongly. His 23-yard screen pass was a well-executed big play. However, he struggled to find room to run, netting just 24 yards on nine carries.
He caught the only pass thrown his way in limited duty. It appeared as if the rookie lined up in the slot more than he did the backfield.
It was a disappointing outing for Johnson, as I wrote here in the initial takeaways. The Lions needed his A-game, but instead they got nothing more than a C- from Megatron.
Burleson had a couple of very nice, clutch receptions and excellent effort after the catch. His four receptions for 51 yards doesn't seem like a great contribution, but he played a larger role than the stats indicate, including his blocking.
One catch for five yards is all that Durham could muster. He was interfered with in the end zone on a play, but Durham neither sold it well nor fought against the defender very hard to draw the flag. That's part of the position too. It was not his best night as a blocker, either.
The Lions used Pettigrew extensively as a blocker throughout most of the game, and he did not disappoint. He was consistently excellent as a blocker.
Pettigrew caught the only two passes thrown his way, and they came on the fourth-quarter touchdown drive. He took a major licking on the second reception but held on through the process of the catch, a shocking development to the Lions faithful.
It's getting to be old hat for the undrafted rookie. He caught just one pass, but made it count, hauling in a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions ahead late. Other than one play where he was breaking free down the left seam as Stafford hurried a ball to the right, Fauria was invisible beyond the touchdown.
In scant playing time, Dickerson is making the most of his opportunity. He blocked well enough on two different occasions to merit praise from the Lions radio broadcast, though he did not see a pass thrown his way. He did, however, make the defense react to his speedy presence as a decoy.
Facing Terrell Suggs is no easy task, but Reiff did a commendable job; Suggs did not record a single tackle and was only sporadically able to get pressure on Stafford.
Sims whiffed on the trap block which allowed the one sack. His run blocking was quite good early on, particularly when the Lions pulled him across the formation.
This was one of his better games. As I noted early on:
Dominic Raiola off to a strong start #BALvsDET— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) December 17, 2013
He did a fine job getting to the second level. Arthur Jones bested him a few times, but the cagey veteran center played well.
The impressive rookie had an uneven outing. He earned early praise for his devastating run and screen blocking, but could not sustain that level of effectiveness.
Later on, he was badly beaten for a quick pressure on Stafford and earned a holding penalty in the fourth quarter.
He quietly turned in another nice performance. Staying anonymous is a good thing for a right tackle.
I'm not sure if the sixth lineman even played on offense, but he got a rare opportunity to return the opening kickoff. The fact he didn't panic or fumble deserves a solid mark.
Another week, another wildly inconsistent performance from No. 98. He made more of an impact in this one, picking up a tackle for loss and a couple of quick pressures on Joe Flacco. But (there's always a "but" with Fairley) he jumped offsides and took himself out of a couple of run plays with poor positional integrity.
It was an uncharacteristically quiet night for the defensive tackle. He recorded three tackles but made very little impact on the overall game. No sacks, once again.
Other than a hit on Flacco after a sweet stunt inside, Ansah did very little. He was on the bench longer than normal, perhaps due to his lingering ankle injury.
He made the biggest impact of the front four, hitting Flacco's arm to force an errant throw. The left end also blew up a draw play to his side, though he was on the hook for Baltimore's longest run when he pinched too far inside and lost containment on the edge.
Taylor flashed a little juice as a pass-rusher, recording a hit on Flacco and forcing the Ravens QB to arc another ball higher than he wanted because of his wingspan.
Mosley jumped offsides and did not record a tackle in limited duty. His performance is not difficult to grade in that context.
After a couple of solid weeks, Izzy went back to being far too easy to block as a reserve defensive end. He only generated real power into the backfield once, snuffing out a run.
It was a quiet game for Levy in coverage, but he made his mark blitzing against both the run and pass. Any time a linebacker completes a game without a missed tackle is a pleasant little victory. He got away with a roughing-the-passer infraction on one of his quarterback hits.
This is quickly becoming a broken record for Tulloch. He was very good at attacking the run, though he did miss a tackle. His coverage, however, remains too soft. Trying hard is nice, but the Lions really need to find a way to get him off the field in obvious passing situations.
The third linebacker did most of his work on special teams. Detroit uses three linebackers very infrequently, and Palmer didn't do much in his limited reps.
The safety was very active in both run defense and coverage. He missed a tackle and was a step out of position on a couple of instances in coverage, but overall, this was one of his more solid games on the season. He did not make an impact play other than a tough (but deserved) penalty for helmet-to-helmet contact.
This was one of his best games as a Lion. He recorded the team's only sack, forcing a fumble in the process. He was very effective at eliminating yards after the catch, a key against Baltimore's offense. There was more control and technique to his game in this one.
Just like last week, the veteran corner played a very strong contest versus Baltimore.
Rashean Mathis has been outstanding in this game. His coverage has been an underrated component of the defensive performance.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 17, 2013
I wrote extensively about Green in the initial game takeaways.
It was a quiet night for the nickel corner. He failed to make a dent in the notes other than being involved in a controversial play down the field (the Delmas penalty). He did not record a tackle.
He was responsible for two big hits in the backfield, registering tackles for loss on both. Carey also demonstrated good range and awareness in coverage. He provided a real lift to a unit that needed one.
For some reason, Martin has lost his ability to produce touchbacks on kickoffs. It hasn't bitten the Lions yet, but it's a disturbing trend nonetheless. Three of his five punts were downed inside the Baltimore 20, including one at the 8-yard line, but he also had a touchback.
Both of his extra points and his one field-goal attempt all split the uprights. Normally, that's an A day for the veteran kicker, but what counterpart Justin Tucker did for Baltimore has to raise the bar a little.
Here's why Ross has earned his role as the primary return man: He consistently makes the first tackler miss. He bagged just 26 return yards on four punts, but there is real excitement to his game.