Matthew Stafford was calm, cool and collected despite being under pressure for much of the game, including three sacks in the second quarter. He finished 24-of-34 for 293 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He added a rushing touchdown and a 7-yard scamper that sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter. Besides a couple throws, he was terrific.
Reggie Bush often frustrates as much as he excites, but he ran incredibly hard in the fourth quarter, taking whatever yards were available against a good Jets front. He finished with 12 carries for 46 yards, including a key 16-yarder on the final drive, and four catches for 19 yards. Joique Bell suffered a fourth-quarter concussion and finished with eight carries for 32 yards.
Calvin Johnson was limited physically, but his fellow receivers picked up the slack. Golden Tate matched a career high with eight catches and 116 yards. Jeremy Ross also had a career-long catch on his 59-yard touchdown.
With Joseph Fauria out, Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron had to play more, and they were productive. Ebron had three catches for 34 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown, and Pettigrew had two catches for 19 yards. Still, the Lions could use more production from this group.
The Lions continue to struggle protecting the right side with Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas splitting time at tackle, but the Jets are an especially tough front. The line gave up four sacks, but the blocking to close the game was impressive.
Whenever a team gives up 52 rushing yards on the opening drive, as the Lions did, the problems start up front. But the line played better as the game wore on, allowing just 80 rushing yards the rest of the game, and put a lot of pressure on Geno Smith.
The first drive was ugly for the entire front seven, but DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead ended with solid games with 11 tackles each. There's a chance some of the early struggles fell on Whitehead, who was calling the defenses as the middle linebacker.
Coach Jim Caldwell mentioned after the game that some perceived weaknesses are becoming strengths. He was obviously talking about the secondary, which continued its strong play to limit Geno Smith to 209 passing yards. Darius Slay had his first interception and James Ihedigbo forced a fumble, but those were the only balls the defensive backs touched.
Alex Henery's time in Detroit is already an improvement over Nate Freese as he started by making a 51-yard field goal, but he did miss a 52-yarder wide right later in the game. Sam Martin continues to punt well and averaged 51 yards on six punts, including a 55-yarder to push the Jets to their own 16 for their final drive. Ross, though, should've taken a knee on a kickoff he returned to the 10.
It's always hard to win a road game after a victory as emotional as the one the Lions had over the Packers last week. The coaches deserve credit for keeping the team focused, and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi had a great plan to overcome Johnson's limitations, though there was some questionable play-calling early in the fourth quarter.