Detroit Solidifies Lead in NFC North With Thanksgiving Win Over Minnesota
On a short week Detroit took on Minnesota for their yearly Thanksgiving game. It was a battle for first place of the NFC North as Detroit had the tiebreaker over Minnesota. Another close game that was lead by another Matt Stafford comeback, his seventh of the year. Darius Slay was able to come in clutch and help Detroit take control of the NFC North.
Matt Stafford was able to lead another comeback for the Lions. He ended with 23 for 40 for 232 yards and one touchdown. He also had four carries for 30 yards and came in clutch on many plays with his legs. Stafford came in clutch again by leading a drive to tie the game and the defense was able to help him out, giving Matt Prater the game winning kick.
The running game improved this week and holes were actually created by the offensive line. Theo Riddick had nine carries for 45 yards, while Dwayne Washington had five carries for 19 yards. With Staffords 30 yards, the total amount of rushing yards was 94, 80 more yards than last week against Jacksonville.
Anquan Boldin was the leading man with seven catches for 69 yards and the only touchdown. Theo Riddick and Golden Tate were next in catches with five each, Tate had 77 yards while Riddick was held to just 13. Marvin Jones saw more involvement with four catches for 54 yards. Jones was targeted 11 times, so Jim Bob Cooter tried getting him more involved, but some of the plays didn’t work out.
The offensive line improved, but still had some issues. Laken Tomlinson was in for some plays today, no reason why but he saw some action and played well, just not good enough to start. They were able to give the running backs lanes to run in, but Stafford got sacked two times and had to scramble at times to avoid getting sacked.
The defensive line was quiet again this week. Ziggy Ansah almost had a forced fumble and sack, but it was later overturned and ruled an incomplete pass. Besides that play, Ansah was only able to get two QB hits. Haloti Ngata and A’Shawn Robinson both had one tackle and a pass deflection, while Anthony Zettel had one tackle.
The return of DeAndre Levy couldn’t happen sooner for Lions fans. Tahir Whitehead did lead the team in tackles with 12, one for loss, but his coverage skills still hurt the team. Antwione Williams had four tackles and did horrible in pass coverage as well. Josh Bynes was the best linebacker of the day, getting four tackles, one for a loss and a pass deflection. His pass coverage was the best out of the three linebackers, so when Levy returns he can take Williams spot as him and Bynes can do well in stopping tight ends and running backs. Today Kyle Rudolph had nine catches for 64 yards, so with Diggs out they relied on Rudolph and he helped them out in key situations due to the poor pass coverage by the Lions linebackers.
“Big Play Slay” came in clutch once again. He had four tackles, one pass deflections and a late game interception to help Detroit kick the game winning field goal. Tavon Wilson lead the secondary in tackles with eight, while Quandre Diggs had six. Nevin Lawson had just one tackle. While Bradford threw for 224 yards, only 101 came from wide receivers while the running backs and tight ends got the rest and were covered by the linebackers.
Special Teams was the reason Detroit won the game today. Matt Prater was 3/3 on field goals, making the longest from 48 yards out. Sam Martin had four punts for 168 yards, ending two inside the 20 yard line. Andre Roberts had one punt return for three yards, while getting two kick returns for 49 yards.
Week 12: What It Means
The Detroit Lions have a one, technically two game lead in the NFC North over the Vikings. That means if Detroit loses one game and the Vikings win, Detroit has that tiebreaker over them so Minnesota would have to win another game and hope Detroit loses again.
Jim Caldwell’s seat has gotten cooler as the Lions went from 1-3 to 7-4. Now that doesn’t mean he is out of the woods yet as the Lions could end up going 7-9. A playoff win could help Caldwell and his future, but he will need more than that to keep his job.
Week 12: What to Think About
Detroit is first place in the division…..you really need to think about that. Detroit is doing better than Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago, something we haven’t seen in years. If Detroit wins the division, for the first time since 1993, this team could have a playoff run.
DeAndre Levy has a good chance to return against the Saints next week and having him back would be huge against Coby Fleener and Drew Brees. Without Levy it will be a big test for the linebackers.
This was the first win of the year that Matt Stafford didn’t lead to a game winning touchdown or field goal. He lead the team to a game-tying field goal, but the defense got the interception and Stafford just kneeled so Prater could hit it through the uprights.
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