New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions: Full Lions Report Card for Every Position
The 23-20 overtime loss officially eliminated the Lions from the NFC North division race, dropping Detroit to 7-8. The Giants improved to 6-9 with the road win.
With nothing to play for other than pride, it will be very interesting to see what sort of effort Detroit brings to the final game at the Metrodome.
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.
- These are derived from game notes taken during live action and without the benefit of All-22 access.
*All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.
He was the best player on the field regardless of position or uniform, period. I detailed his inspired effort in the initial takeaways.
He had a miserable first half, running tentatively despite good blocking. He was a count late to release on an inside screen. The biggest issue was the ball he fumbled away in Giants territory.
After sulking on the bench for an extended period, Reggie Bush returned in the second half. He was not much better, missing a catch on a slightly errant throw.
Theo Riddick took advantage of Bush's struggles and wound up with a touchdown to show for it. His first carry resulted in a two-yard scoring run. He picked up six yards on his only other touch.
The man known as Megatron was transformed into a bit player in this game. Lingering issues with his gimpy knee forced Calvin Johnson to the sidelines for stretches, and he was often a decoy while in the game. He managed just three receptions for 43 yards, all in the first half.
His issues continued from last week's poor performance. Kris Durham failed to draw an interference penalty in the end zone. He earned a holding penalty as well, though he redeemed himself with a key third-down reception later in the same drive.
Stafford looked his way seven times, but the former Georgia roommates connected just twice. Durham almost made a great catch on a tough throw, but close doesn't put points on the board.
His first mention in the notes was for a very iffy offensive pass interference call in the second quarter. Mr. Lionblood had a very quiet game, catching just two passes for 12 yards.
He made a nice catch-and-run on an inside screen to put the Lions in scoring position for Detroit's first field goal. Stafford missed him twice on timing issues where the receiver did show some ability to get separation. Kevin Ogletree missed a block on the Jeremy Ross reverse.
The undrafted rookie got the start in place of injured Brandon Pettigrew. He made Detroit's first reception of the day, breaking a couple of tackles and trying hard to lift a flat crowd with his effort. His conversion on 3rd-and-17 showed his big-play potential extends outside the red zone.
This was his best all-around game as a pro, and it provides legitimate promise for a more expansive role next season.
He was more involved than ever before, but it wasn't necessarily a good thing. Two blown blocks on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter ruined a drive.
And then there was the overtime drop. Dickerson had at least 15 yards of running room had he secured an easy catch, but he dropped the ball. On the very next play, he negated a strong Bell run with a hold.
After the game, Dickerson revealed he played through a concussion suffered in the fourth quarter.
The left tackle got off to a slow start, getting eviscerated on Detroit's first drive by Mathias Kiwanuka in both run blocking and pass protection. He also allowed another sack on Detroit's last drive in regulation. Justin Rogers of MLive summed it up succinctly:
Riley Reiff has had better days.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 23, 2013
Rob Sims was flagged for a hold which wiped out a great screen play to Bell just before halftime, and he earned another holding penalty in the fourth quarter. Aside from the penalties, both on running plays, the left guard was strong in pass protection.
In what is almost certainly his last game at Ford Field as a Lion, Dominic Raiola fared pretty well. The veteran center made a couple of nice seal blocks on some early runs. He held up well in the passing game and did an acceptable job making line calls.
He continues to impress with his run-blocking prowess, and the third-round rookie also showed his range in this game a couple of times. He's not going to win Rookie of the Year, but performances like this one merit a few votes in the top three.
The rookie right tackle made the notes a couple of times for good recovery blocking after being beaten initially in pass protection. An ankle injury forced him from the game before halftime, and he did not return.
Jason Fox took over for Waddle after the injury. There was a little noticeable drop-off in pass blocking, but Fox did play better than in past opportunities overall.
His first half was noteworthy for its lack of notoriety; Nick Fairley was downright invisible. In the second half, however, the defensive tackle completely dominated the Giants offensive interior. His safety of Eli Manning should have been the turning point to a glorious victory rally. He also forced a fumble.
Much like Fairley, Ndamukong Suh was strangely quiet in the first half. He also emerged after halftime as a stronger force. Suh didn't get to the ball very often but generated some interior pressure. As the Fox broadcast crew noted during the telecast, he was directing traffic up front in calling stunts and twists.
Still, this was another outing completely devoid of impact plays. The Lions need more from him than near-misses.
Willie Young did a good job moving around pre-snap, and his shifting kept the Giants offensive line guessing a bit. Young also batted a pass at the line and pounced on a fumble. He failed to record a solo tackle.
He continues to make impact plays:
Ziggy Ansah living up to the draft hype. "Upside" guy just got his 8th sack of the season. Only had 4.5 in his #BYU career.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 22, 2013
In this game, he showed more than just the big play. His awareness and ability to get off blocks made this perhaps his best all-around performance even if it lacked a forced turnover.
Devin Taylor quickly shed a block and registered a tackle for loss in his first series. In more extensive playing time than the fourth-round rookie typically gets, he proved worthy of the reps. Taylor drew a holding penalty, batted down a pass with his chest and bested left tackle Will Beatty on several pass-rushing opportunities.
DeAndre Levy flashed his cover skills in breaking up a third-down pass on New York's second drive, securing a three-and-out. He was consistently around the ball in run support. Levy very nearly secured his seventh interception, but Manning's throw was so off-target he just missed it. Another strong outing.
One thing stands out in my notes on Stephen Tulloch: the lack of any missed tackles. That's progress. He was his typical active self, swarming to the ball with power.
Playing more than usual to help cover the holes in the secondary, Ashlee Palmer had a strong start. He made a great open-field tackle on a screen to negate a potential big gain.
After that, his inexperience and lack of coverage ability were on full, ugly display. Twice he was completely flummoxed by screen plays, losing track of his responsibility. He also lost edge contain on another play.
How do you make a bad play worse? Louis Delmas has the answer. React to the zone coverage a count late and surrender a touchdown pass by being in the wrong place, then knock out a teammate with a stupid head-first dive.
That play dominates any impression of the safety from this game, though he did make a great open-field tackle in the third quarter.
His diving interception staved off New York's final regulation gasp at scoring, and he broke up another pass on the prior drive.
Glover Quin was very active throughout the game, attacking the run and flying around in coverage.
Thrust into a starting role due to injuries, the normal nickel corner had a rough day. He was beaten for a touchdown by Jerrel Jernigan, and on the play he was knocked out cold by teammate Delmas.
After last week's rough outing, there was nowhere to go but up. Jonte Green played better, showing more confidence and better awareness. He did a good job keeping plays in front of him, though he did give too much room at times.
Surprise, surprise! Chris Greenwood made his regular-season debut for Detroit and showed some real promise. After being re-signed in Detroit following his release from Dallas, the Lions' fifth-round pick in 2012 used his size to his advantage in coverage situations.
More importantly, he did not give up the big play. When his mark caught the ball, he quickly tackled with good form.
Once again, Don Carey proved his value as a key reserve. He's a smart, cagey veteran with a good understanding of what the offense is trying to do. Against New York he was seldom out of position and brought much-needed stability to the youthful back end of the defense.
He made his only field goal attempt from 37 yards. For the second week in a row, David Akers also handled kickoff duties, allowing just one return from nine yards deep. When the coverage broke down, Akers helped get in the way to facilitate a tackle.
The rookie punter was a busy man, punting six times. Two of those pinned the Giants inside their own 20-yard line. It was not his strongest game in terms of hang time, though it wasn't bad by any means.
Once again Ross provided a real lift to the return units. As MLive's Justin Rogers noted:
Ross has had a 40-plus yard return in five of his six games as the team's primary return man.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) December 22, 2013
Ross also made good decisions and clean receptions on a couple of fair catches on punts.