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Lions grades: Stafford shines with key plays

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Matthew Stafford scrambles in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback: This was exactly the kind of performance the Lions' coaching staff has wanted from Matthew Stafford the past two years. He didn't take unnecessary risks, he didn't have a turnover and he made key plays when the Lions needed them. Stafford's heads-up running — six carries for 31 yards and a touchdown — was the highlight, but he was fairly accurate as a passer, finishing 22-of-35 for 282 yards. Grade: B+

Running backs: Theo Riddick was sensational as a receiver with five catches for 72 yards. He and the rest of the backs struggled running the ball statistically, but Ameer Abdullah (12 carries for 44 yards) and Joique Bell (six carries for 22 yards and an 18-yard catch) had timely plays. Grade: B-

Wide receivers: Golden Tate consistently made plays with eight catches for 73 yards, and Calvin Johnson made big plays with 88 yards on five catches. Including Lance Moore's 21-yard catch, Lions wide receivers had five plays of 19-plus yards. Johnson's drop showed the group wasn't perfect, though. Grade: B+

Swarming Lions silence Raiders for 2nd straight win

Tight ends: Drops continue to plague Eric Ebron, and he just looks uncomfortable catching contested passes. He didn't catch either of his targets, including one that should've been an early score. Brandon Pettigrew had just one catch for 8 yards, though he helped in the run game. Still, this was a poor effort against a team that struggles covering tight ends. Grade: D

Offensive line: The Lions allowed four sacks, but just four quarterback hits, too, as the pass blocking was good enough on most plays. The run blocking still isn't great as the Lions averaged 3.5 yards for the game, but overall, it was a solid showing. Grade: B-

Defensive line: Ezekiel Ansah drawing a holding in the end zone for a safety was certainly the highlight. He had a sack and a tackle for loss, and Jason Jones, Haloti Ngata and Khyri Thornton all had good tackles for loss. However, the pass rush wasn't great overall with just four quarterback hits and one sack, though the run defense was solid. Grade: B+

Linebackers: None of the linebackers shined individually, but the group deserves a lot of credit for holding the Raiders to 2.4 yards per carry. Statistically, Josh Bynes' pass defensed was the most impressive contribution, and the linebackers did struggle at times with tight ends. Grade: B

Secondary: Cornerback Darius Slay continues to excel, and he shut down Raiders rookie Amari Cooper for most of the game. Slot cornerback Quandre Diggs made several plays with five tackles, a pass break-up and a forced fumble. Safety Glover Quin made some nice plays to prevent big gains, and Isa Abdul-Quddus tied for the team lead with five tackles and a pass defensed. Grade: A

Special teams: Golden Tate's ability to turn a back-pedaling catch into a 14-yard punt return was a critical play for the Lions when they led by three in the fourth quarter. Tate also returned a free kick 26 yards. Sam Martin averaged 47.6 yards and 44.4 net yards on his five punts, but an illegal formation on the punt unit shouldn't happen. Matt Prater was three-for-three on field goals, including a 51-yarder, and the Lions limited Oakland's return game. Grade: A-

Coaching: Give Jim Caldwell and his staff credit for finding a way to carry over the success of last week's win in Green Bay. The Lions were the better team for three of four quarters, and Teryl Austin's defensive scheme was a key reason as he mixed blitzes and coverages. Offensively, Jim Bob Cooter trusted his quarterback to make plays at the right time, even if it was a mostly conservative attack. Grade: A-

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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