Who will be grounded until he raises his grades? Let's take a look.
Lions QB Matt Stafford went 32 for 46, 378 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Passing on 67 percent of the total offensive snaps (70) is a little one dimensional, unless your team is in the pass-happy NFC North.
Stafford was sacked five times, and was under continuous duress. In spite of this, Stafford found eight different receivers on 32 plays.
Jahvid Best (12 carries, 14 yards), Jerome Harrison (2 carries, 8 yards), Kieland Williams (2 carries, 3 yards), and Maurice Morris (2 carries, -4 yards).
Those stats won't scare anyone. As a group, the Lions put up a 1.2 YPC.That's unacceptable, even on a predominately passing team.
Mitigating this utter lack of production in the running game is the excellent production that the backs give the Lions in the passing game. Jahvid Best (5 catches, 74 yards), Jerome Harrison (1 catch, 3 yards) and Maurice Morris (1 catch, 14 yards) complimented the passing game quite nicely.
Grade: F (rushing)
Grade: B- (receiving)
Brandon Pettigrew (11 catches, 112 yards) and Tony Scheffler (1 catch, 4 yards) made another fine contribution as receivers.
The bad news is that Pettigrew completely whiffed on blocks that should have been delivered on two of Vikings DE Jared Allen's three sacks. Crowd noise is no excuse, Pettigrew should have the awareness to take himself out of a pass pattern in order to keep his QB upright.
Grade: B (receiving)
Grade: F (blocking)
Calvin Johnson (7 catches, 108 yards, 2 TDs) had one of those magical games that we cannot get enough of. Every superlative known to man is becoming commonplace when describing Megatron's prodigious skills.
Nate Burleson (2 catches, 12 yards) was lightly targeted, but this is more a function of single coverage on Johnson.
Titus Young (4 catches, 51 yards) has shown that he has arrived as a legitimate deep threat who can deliver a solid block when called upon to do so.
The tackles had a horrible day. Stafford was sacked five times (even though I attributed two of them to TE Brandon Pettigrew). RT Gosder Cherilus was benched after his whiff block on Vikings LDE Brian Roberson. Corey Hilliard followed this up by allowing two more sacks. Jeff Backus allowed a sack on a play where he was flagged for holding.
Note to Backus: If you are going to commit a holding penalty, make certain that the DE doesn't sack the QB.
The interior linemen did their usual lackluster job. They were OK in pass blocking, but never opened a running lane for the ball carriers.
Grade: F (pass blocking)
Grade: F (run blocking)
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (2 tackles) was rewarded with his third sack on the season. KVB's relentless play is opening up some opportunities for the LBs and safeties.
DE Cliff Avril (2 tackles) notched his first sack on the season. DE's Willie Young and Lawrence Jackson looked equally disruptive in the rotation.
DT Ndamukong Suh (5 total tackles) had a vintage game. Suh had one of four QB sacks. Corey Williams had another disruptive game, but didn't figure in the stats.
DT Sammie Lee Hill was given additional snaps but failed to make the best of the opportunity. Hill was ticketed twice for personal fouls before giving way to Andre Fluellen, who had a solid appearance.
MLB Stephen Tulloch (7 tackles) continued his fine play. He led the team in tackles and was the kind of presence that Lions fans have been waiting for.
SOLB Justin Durant (6 tackles) helped quiet Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (78 yards rushing on 17 attempts). His pass coverage has also improved.
WOLB DeAndre Levy (2 solos, 1 assist) played through chronic knee pain. Levy was somewhat limited, but played a solid zone coverage.
Brandon McDonald also chipped in with solid nickel package play.
Louis Delmas (6 tackles) and Amari Spievey (4 tackles, 1 sack) have played every snap of every game. They are productive and reliable.
Special Teams (Kicking)
Jason Hanson (4 of 4 FG attempts, 2 of 2 XPs) and Ryan Donahue (7 punts, 46.4 avg) were flawless.
Special Teams (Returns, Blocking, Coverage)
Stefan Logan (3 kick returns, 24.7 avg) finally got off the schneid in the return game. Logan (4 punt returns, 9.3 avg) also had another decent day returning punts.
The special teams blocking was good enough to allow the Lions decent field position.
The special teams coverage was abysmal. The Lions allowed a punt return of 53 yards and a kick return of 68 yards. The worst performance of ST coach Danny Crossman's tenure in Detroit.
Is "gunner" Rashied Davis, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury, that important?
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan spread the ball out to eight receivers, used the running backs effectively in the pass game, and his play calling was mostly astute.
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham dialed up the run blitz early. The quick adjustment back to the zone after getting gashed was responsible for the relative success of the Lions defense against the Vikings running game.
Special Teams coach Danny Crossman will have to find an answer to the poor tackling that is becoming chronic.
Head Coach Jim Schwartz was proactive when he pulled RT Gosder Cherilus and DT Sammie Lee Hill from the field.
Unlike past Lions coaches, Schwartz gets game management. The clock has become a Lions ally.