Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears: Full Roster Report Card for Detroit
It also puts Detroit in the driver's seat of the NFC North race. The Lions improve to 6-3 while dropping the Bears to 5-4. Because of the two head-to-head wins, Detroit essentially holds a two-game lead over Chicago.
Next week, Detroit heads to Pittsburgh to face the 2-6 Steelers. Hopefully the injury report isn't too tough on the Lions, who won despite missing defensive end Ziggy Ansah and cornerback Bill Bentley from the defense.
The grading scale here is subjectively based on my expectations for player performance. As an example, if Ndamukong Suh gets three tackles and one quarterback pressure, that will grade lower than C.J. Mosley doing the same things.
Impact plays like turnovers, touchdowns or other big plays rate highly. Penalties, blown assignments and giveaways really hurt the grade for a player.
Here are my grades for the Lions.
Matthew Stafford finished 18-of-35 for 219 yards, which is pretty indicative of his uneven afternoon. He came up at his best when the team needed him, converting three red-zone appearances into touchdown passes. His one interception came on an inaccurate overthrow, of which there were a few.
I noted during the game that Stafford lapsed a little into his mechanically lazy habits of what we hoped was the distant past. It bears watching if he continues with the slew-footed, sidearm slings with little hope of completion.
It was a tale of two halves for Reggie Bush. At halftime, Bush had four carries for 20 yards and was dancing sideways far too frequently.
In the second half, Bush exploded for 85 yards on 10 carries. Two of those runs produced 25 total yards on consecutive plays on Detroit's final touchdown drive. Reggie was attacking creases and quickly exploiting cutback lanes.
He did have two drops in the passing game and finished with just eight yards receiving on six total targets, which is terribly inefficient. One of his drops was on a beautifully designed screen where he almost certainly would have scored a touchdown had he caught the ball.
Joique Bell also picked it up after halftime. He finished with 41 yards on 10 carries after getting just 16 yards on his five first-half totes. I had him down for three more broken tackles but also a poor pass protection effort, which caused a Stafford throwaway.
I didn't notice Theo Riddick getting any action in the offense, but he did make his presence felt by making a beautiful tackle on Devin Hester on a kick return. That's a role player contributing when asked and a sign that Riddick is a keeper going forward.
Others noticed, too.
Something that'll probably get lost in Sunday's #Lions win -- Theo Riddick is becoming a good ST player -- 3 tackles.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 11, 2013
This was Montell Owens' first outing of the season after being activated off injured reserve. It did not last long, as he appeared to only play on the first drive. After the game, coach Jim Schwartz addressed his injury:
Schwartz said Montell Owens injured the same knee.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) November 10, 2013
It was not a great game for Megatron, yet he still made a major impact. He caught just six of the 17 balls thrown his direction, and at least two of those misses were drops.
One such drop came the play before he scored his second touchdown, which ultimately proved to be the game-winning score. That play gave Johnson a notable accomplishment, as it broke a tie he established earlier in the game.
Calvin Johnson with his 62nd TD catch, tied for most in franchise history with Herman Moore.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 10, 2013
It was a very quiet game for Kris Durham. He caught the only pass thrown his way. Fortunately it happened to come in the end zone for Detroit's first score of the game. He was almost never open upon first watch of the game.
He continues to climb the depth chart, passing Kevin Ogletree as the starting slot receiver. Jeremy Ross caught two passes for 28 yards and appears to have earned Stafford's trust. Things are looking up for Ross, who is taking advantage of his "next man up" opportunity as best as he can.
Pettigrew must really enjoy playing the Chicago Bears. In the first meeting, he caught all seven targets for 54 yards.
In this game he pulled down all five balls thrown his way, picking up 70 yards. I used words like "bulling" and "snowplowing" to describe his game in my notes.
The rookie caught just one pass, but it was a big one. His 25-yard reception on third down kept the chains moving. Stafford missed him on a quick end-zone fade, and flat-out ignored him when he was wide open on another shot.
As a positive for Joseph Fauria, I did not have any negative notes on his blocking. Of course, he was flagged for a personal foul. Baby steps...
The big left tackle had his hands full with Julius Peppers, but he handled the great defensive end with aplomb. Peppers netted just one tackle and never touched Stafford. Riley Reiff cleared out a couple of nice holes in the run game.
It's an ongoing trend that Reiff blocks better in front of Bell than Bush, perhaps because Bell is a more aggressive runner who sticks to the designed play better.
This was another very strong outing from the veteran left guard. Every note I have on him is positive, including a pancake on one of Bush's longer runs.
The starting center has had better games this year. He struggled to move the defensive tackles off the line, and he gave up at least two quarterback pressures. As is customary, no Lions player winds up on the turf at the end of more plays than Dominic Raiola.
When the run game started clicking in the second half, Larry Warford had a lot to do with it. His brute power and range on counter plays cleared huge holes. I had him on the hook for two hits on Stafford on initial viewing, but it's admittedly tough to pick that up on just one watch.
In the postgame fray, I was asked about LaAdrian Waddle's performance:
He deserves to remain the starting right tackle, but he will also be glad to not see Corey Wootton again this year.
The right tackle got in for one play, relieving a briefly wounded Waddle. He did not get injured on the play, which is somewhat unusual for Jason Fox.
For much of the first three quarters, Ndamukong Suh was the only defensive lineman to do much of anything. He wound up with four hits on the quarterback, including one sack.
His biggest impact came when Suh deflected a pass which was intercepted in the end zone by DeAndre Levy. Suh also nailed Matt Forte for a four-yard loss on a run. Another sack was wiped out by a facemask penalty, though the initial grasping of Jay Cutler's facemask was incidental.
I summarized Nick Fairley's roller coaster of a game in my initial takeaways. From invisible to goat to hero.
The only time Willie Young got near the quarterback he was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Chicago's first shot at the two-point conversion. He generated a couple of grazing pressures but nothing to disrupt the play.
Young did handle himself well in the run game even though he didn't officially register a tackle. He also batted two balls, one of which he nearly turned into a pick-six.
This was the most active we've seen the former Bear all season. Perhaps playing his old team shook off some of the rust. Still, the only tackle he made was after a gain of five. Increased reps did not result in any more productivity.
Devin Taylor played sparingly after getting the start in place of fellow rookie Ziggy Ansah, who was inactive with an ankle injury. It was hard to see Taylor after he pressured Jay Cutler into a bad pass early on.
Has Devin Taylor played in the second half? I don't think he has. Lots of Idonije and Young.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) November 10, 2013
The only time he made my notes came on consecutive plays. On the first, he assisted on a tackle at the line of scrimmage after quickly discarding right guard Kyle Long, who lunged out too far. The next play, Mosley thumped Cutler after hurrying him into a bad throw.
The newest Lion saw more action than expected. He did not register a tackle but did account for a QB hit on the stat sheet. I noted his frantic energy but also that he reminded me of a guy who thinks he's drowning in two-foot-deep water. He's worth keeping and coaching up.
This was yet another mixed bag kind of game for Stephen Tulloch. He did not make any impact plays other than helping out on a tackle for loss. He was often a step late in coverage but was bailed out by Cutler's inaccuracy.
Teams have figured out how to attack Tulloch, and I'm not sold that either he or the coaching staff know how to counter it. They need more from the veteran in the push for the playoffs.
His opportunism shone once again, snaring a deflected pass for an interception to snuff out a red-zone possession for Chicago. It was his fifth interception on the season. DeAndre Levy also recorded six tackles and broke up another pass, though he did cede several completions underneath.
Ashlee Palmer made the notes once, and it was not a positive. He perfectly timed a run blitz on Chicago's first drive but ran right past Forte, who turned it upfield for a rare positive gain.
His one notable play was a huge one. He slammed into Michael Bush on 4th-and-1 and brought him down for a short loss, effectively creating a turnover.
Chris Houston started slowly, giving up several receptions to Brandon Marshall early. He settled in, however, playing better as the game progressed. A big tackle to prevent a third-down conversion appeared to bolster his confidence.
When the final story of the 2013 Detroit Lions is written, one of the highlights will be plucking Rashean Mathis off the street late in the preseason.
Mathis was all over the field. His eight tackles led the team, and he also broke up at least two passes. It was arguably his strongest outing of the season, and it came while playing out of position in the slot much of the day.
He was benched, again. He deserved it, again. The team needs more from the second-round pick going forward or else he won't get off the bench again this season.
It was not his best game in coverage, as he wasn't always timely in assisting on Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery. He redeemed all that by helping to break up what appeared to be a touchdown catch by Jeffery.
His tackle number was low, with just three, in large part because the Bears runners almost never got to the second level.
Louis Delmas was not very effective in coverage. I did note a couple of hard hits, but beyond that it was a nondescript day of little impact for the starting safety.
I named Carey my "Hidden Hero" in the initial takeaways. That merits a top grade, though I must deduct for an illegal contact penalty.
David Akers missed his only field-goal attempt, and his struggles in pregame convinced the Lions to opt and try to convert a fourth down instead of trying a 50-yard field goal. It's all or nothing for Akers, and today was a zero.
Sam Martin booted four punts for 178 yards, pinning one inside the Chicago 20. His first punt required him to field a snap which bounced in front of him, but he still got it away cleanly. Devin Hester did get some return opportunities, but the coverage units were very good.
The embattled return man has had exactly two kick returns all season where he was better than worthless. One came in each game versus Chicago. He did not return a punt.