Detroit Gets Revenge Against Bears, Solidify Lead In NFC North Race
A lot of things have changed since week four. Detroit had its worst performance of the season in Chicago, so fans and the team were hungry for another shot against the Bears’ team. Detroit needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, with a chance to be the NFC North champions and fight for a possible number two seed. While it wasn’t like last week where the team was solid in all four quarters, it was still a big win for the team as the season winds down.
Matt Stafford was inconsistent in the game today. He went 21/35 for 223 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also had three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown, as he was able to avoid pressure in key plays. Stafford lead his eighth game winning drive with his rushing touchdown, an NFL record. Stafford seemed to have injured his finger early in the game, he came out and put on a glove. While at times it didn’t seem to affect him, the second interception seemed to have been caused by the glove.
Running the ball is a chore now for the Lions. Theo Riddick was ruled out and Joique Bell was signed to help the rushing attack. Bell only saw offensive play once on a screen pass, and had a penalty on special teams for a block in the back. Dwayne Washington lead the team in carries with 16 for 64 yards. Zach Zenner had seven carries for 36 yards. Detroit was able to break 100 rushing yards which they haven’t been able to do since week two against the Titans. They ended with 114 yards on the ground.
Marvin Jones returned and helped the air attack keep Detroit in the game. Jones ended with four catches for 67 yards, while Golden Tate lead the team in catches with six for 58 yards. Anquan Boldin had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, and Eric Ebron had four catches for 32 yards.
The offensive line struggled with Travis Swanson out. Laken Tomlinson struggled, but he wasn’t the only one. There were holding calls on Riley Reiff and Taylor Decker and the unit allowed three sacks. The running game was able to get over 100 yards on the ground which was nice to see, but they struggled to get those yards.
The defensive line did a poor job today. Only once were they able to create pressure on Barkley and get a sack. Ziggy Ansah ended up with just getting two total tackles, one tackle for loss. Kerry Hyder got the lone sack and two total tackles. A’Shawn Robinson had two tackles and Haloti Ngata had one.
After hearing it for weeks, the man with the beard returned. DeAndre Levy started this week, but played limited snaps in his first game back since week one. He ended up with four total tackles and did well in coverage. Tahir Whitehead returned this week as well and tied the lead in tackles with six, but again struggled in coverage and missed on two good chances for the defense. He whiffed on an easy sack and dropped an interception that was right in his hands. Josh Bynes had a good game getting six tackles, two for loss as his coverage skills were good, and getting a pass deflection.
Darius Slay had three tackles and two pass deflections, but got beat out by Cameron Meredith on a simple fly route. Nevin Lawson had four tackles and Rafael Bush had two tackles, with a pass deflection that was popped up and could have been intercepted. Tavon Wilson also had five tackles. Newly signed cornerback Asa Jackson had two tackles as well.
Special Teams was impressive again. Sam Martin had two punts for 102 yards, one landing inside the 20. Matt Prater made both of his field goals, longest from 54 yards out. Andre Roberts had two kick returns for 49 yards and a punt return for seven yards
Week 14: What It Means
Detroit has three games left in the season and has a two game lead still over the Vikings and possibly the Packers if they win today. If Green Bay loses, then their only chance to win the division is if Minnesota chokes and Detroit loses two straight, as well as falls flat week 17 against the Packers. Lions fans won’t want that to be the scenario.
Matt Stafford leads his eighth game winning drive this season, an NFL record. It means that Stafford can lead this team again and again in games that he doesn’t excel in. He didn’t play fantastic, but he was able to still carry the team to victory.
Detroit has a lot of work to do. Travis Swanson needs to return to help the offensive line protect Stafford for a longer period of time. Riddick needs to return healthy, along with Zenner. Detroit needs to improve on offense if they want to even think of playing more football in January.
Week 14: What to Think About
Stafford injuring his finger is something to watch. Sure he finished the game and looked fine, but you want to make sure your quarterback is healthy as the season continues and even something as small as a finger injury can have an impact on how he plays.
Ziggy getting hurt isn’t good as well. He has been dealing with an ankle injury all year this year, so having him deal with something new isn’t what the fans wanted to see. He seemed to be on his way back to being healthy again, but this will hold him back. While he did return, this might affect how he plays and he was already limited with his ankle.
Another injury to think about is at the running back position. Riddick missed today and Washington was banged up, but was able to stay in the game. Zach Zenner seemed to have been banged up and that would leave Joique Bell as the only healthy running back. You can’t win many games with two 50/50 backs and one fully healthy one.