Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Stafford clutch, line crumbles

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions' Ziggy Ansah hits Jaguars QB Blake Bortles just after he passes the ball in the first half.

Detroit -- Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in Sunday's 26-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.


It wasn’t Matthew Stafford’s best game, and to a lesser extent than some of the other culprits, he contributed to the early offensive struggles with a few poorly-placed throws. But, once again, when the game was on the line, he was at his best. When pressure came, he bailed on the pocket to find Eric Ebron for a 61-yard, third-down completion, setting up the offense’s first touchdown. Then, with eight minutes remaining, Stafford milked the clock down to its final seconds with a 15-play scoring drive. Grade: B+

Running backs

It was a rough day for rookie Dwayne Washington, who got an expanded workload with Theo Riddick suffering a hand injury. Washington was hit in the backfield almost every time he touched the ball, finishing with six yards on 13 carries. He also blew a blitz pickup that led to Stafford eating a sack. Riddick didn’t get many carries, but he was still the team’s steadiest offensive weapon, catching eight passes for 70 yards, doing most of the damage during the two scoring drives at the end of each half. Grade: B-

Wide receivers

Anquan Boldin led the group with six receptions, but only one resulted in a first down. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones were non-factors. The pair combined for four catches for 42 yards, struggling with separation. Tate also lost a fumble on an end around, fighting for extra yardage. Grade: D

Lions get 'er done vs. Jaguars, go to 6-4

Tight ends

Eric Ebron was quiet much of the afternoon, but he came up with two big plays in the fourth quarter during the winning drive. First, he found a soft spot deep against a zone coverage look, allowing him to pick up 61 yards. He then capped the drive, taking a handoff on the end around into the end zone from a yard out. Grade: B

Offensive line

This was one of the worst performances we’ve seen from the offensive line this season. The pass protection was OK, but the run blocking was atrocious, leading to 10 tackles behind the line. Rookies Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow each drew a false start, struggling with some of the cadence being utilized by Stafford to keep the Jaguars’ defense off balance.  Grade: D-

Defensive line

Ziggy Ansah didn’t record a sack, but he looked more like the player who nearly set the franchise record last season. He popped Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles three times and also chased him down once as he scrambled. A’Shawn Robinson, Kerry Hyder and Stefan Charles all came up with tackles for a loss, helping contribute to the Jaguars’ ineffective ground game. Grade: A-


The linebackers get some credit for slowing up the Jaguars on the ground, but the unit was poor in coverage, particularly when they attempted to shadow running back Chris Ivory, who gained 75 yards on six receptions. Tahir Whitehead matched a season-low with three tackles and was beaten by Ivory multiple times. Grade: D


The Lions’ secondary gave up two touchdowns, but the plays were well defended. You can’t say the same for the deep ball given up by Johnthan Banks that set up one of the touchdowns. But the defensive backs got their hands on five passes, with the biggest being a breakup by Nevin Lawson that was intercepted by Rafael Bush and returned 39 yards for a touchdown.  The group also forced two other turnovers, a fumble and a game-ending pick by Tavon Wilson. Grade: B+

Special teams

It was a mixed bag from the special teams, but the highs outweighed the lows. Sam Martin’s punting was superb, Matt Prater made both of his field goals, including a critical 43-yarder in the closing seconds, covering up for a missed PAT earlier in the game. Speaking of making amends, return man Andre Roberts’ muffed punt cost the Lions three points, but all was forgiven after he returned his next attempt 55 yards for a touchdown. Grade: B


Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been under fire for his unit’s subpar play this season, but the group bailed the struggling offense out with inspired play, forcing three turnovers and consistently coming up with big stops on third down. It was far from perfect, but it built on an encouraging performance against Minnesota before the bye. The offense, on the other hand, sputtered for three quarters and seemed out of sync at all levels. It came together just in time, but against a better opponent, it might have been too little too late. Grade: C-