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Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Not great but gutsy

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions running back Zach Zenner collides with the Bears' Akiem Hicks in the second quarter.

Detroit -- Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in Sunday's 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears.


While attempting to get rid of the ball on a broken play, Matthew Stafford injured the middle finger on his throwing hand. The gloved hand hampered his velocity and accuracy, but the quarterback gutted through the pain. He was intercepted twice, the second being returned for a touchdown, but he made up for it by leading a game-winning drive he capped with a tough, seven-yard run, absorbing multiple hits on his way to the end zone. Grade: C

Running backs

Rookie Dwayne Washington is still dealing with lingering ankle pain, but it didn’t stop him from delivering his most complete performance of his young career, rushing for 64 yards on 16 carries and picking up another first down on a pile-moving, 10-yard reception. Zach Zenner, serving as a complement, also delivered some chain-moving carries in the second half, before he was forced from the game with a concussion. Grade: B

Wide receivers

Marvin Jones led the way with four grabs for 67 yards, but he also drew three penalties, including a pair of long pass interference infractions, hiding his true impact on the stat sheet. Golden Tate chipped in six grabs for 58 yards and Anquan Boldin continued to be key on third down and in the red zone, scoring the team’s first touchdown with a tough 16-yard grab in the second quarter. Grade: B+

Tight ends

Eric Ebron let one throw slip through his fingers, but made up for that with a tough first-down catch on a wide throw near the sideline. He finished with four receptions for 32 yards.  Grade: C+

Offensive line

Stafford faced some understandable pressure from a tough defensive front, but Detroit’s makeshift group did some solid work keeping Stafford from absorbing too many hits.  That also meant they took a few too many penalties, with tackles Riley Reiff and Taylor Decker getting flagged for holding twice each. On the ground, there were holes, which the team utilized to gain 114 on the ground.  Grade: C-

'Go time': Matthew Stafford’s scamper saves Lions

Defensive line

The sacks still weren’t there, with Kerry Hyder recording the only one, but it was an important stop, on a third down in the fourth quarter. Just as valuable were the two holds, generated by Ziggy Ansah and Haloti Ngata on the Bears’ final drive, negating plays that would have put the opposition in field-goal range.  Grade: B


Josh Bynes continues to shine. He had two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. DeAndre Levy, in his return to the lineup, recorded four stops in limited snaps. The group could have done a better job shedding blocks against the run. Bears back Jordan Howard ripped off two big gains in the loss. Grade: B-


Darius Slay got uncharacteristically burned by a lower-tier receiver, giving up a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but he and Nevin Lawson combined for four pass breakups, while safety Rafael Bush added another. The group couldn’t corral any of the passes they got their hands on for a turnover and newcomer Asa Jackson committed a hold on third down. Grade: C

Special teams

Matt Prater continued his impressive run, knocking down two field goals, including a 54-yarder. He’s a perfect 6-for-6 from 50 and beyond this year. Sam Martin also had a strong day, averaging 51 yards on his two punts, even though he let one carry into the end zone. Andre Roberts did a fine job returning kicks, but his best effort, a long punt return, was nullified by a block in the back by Joique Bell.  Grade: B


The defense continues to perform well, holding a seventh consecutive opponent to 20 or fewer points, the longest streak by the Lions since 1961. The Bears had some explosive gains, but finished with fewer than 300 yards. Offensively, the Lions were limited by Stafford’s finger, but still managed to dominate the time of possession with a healthy mix of run and pass. Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter also took advantage of a mismatch on Boldin’s touchdown, making the call after seeing the Bears putting a safety on the savvy veteran receiver. Grade: B