The Lions' playoff pulse continues to faintly beat after sneaking by the Bucs in a turnover-filled game.
Tampa, Fla. — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in Sunday’s 24-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
You wouldn’t know Matthew Stafford was nursing a hand injury the way he slung it against the Bucs. He completed 81.8 percent of his throws, including his first 12 and final six. The downside to the performance were two throws forced into coverage, intercepted and ended scoring threats. Grade: B
Theo Riddick scored two touchdowns, including an impressive 18-yarder where he ran through a tackle, but was otherwise limited to 11 yards on nine carries. Tion Green, in his second game, wasn’t much better. He showed a lack of urgency on a third-and-1 and was dropped behind the line, and finished his day with 15 yards on five rushes. Riddick’s role in the receiving game, six grabs for 64 yards, boosts the overall mark. Grade: C+
Golden Tate paced the group, catching eight of his nine targets for 85 yards and a score. Marvin Jones chipped in three grabs for 64, including another big play, a 38-yard reception on a second-and-20 that set up Tate’s touchdown. Kenny Golladay had a quiet afternoon, but made a tough third-down catch late in the fourth quarter to put the team in range for Matt Prater’s winning field goal. The only thing keeping this from an 'A' is drive-hindering penalties against Tate and Jones. Grade: B+
Eric Ebron led the Lions with a career-high 10 catches for 94 yards. Unfortunately, he fumbled one of the 10, giving the ball to the Bucs near midfield. Darren Fells didn’t figure much into the passing game plan, but came wide open as a checkdown read and gained 23 yards to set up the Lions’ first touchdown. And rookie Michael Roberts continued to deliver big blocks, sealing an outside defender on Riddick’s 18-yard scoring run. Grade: B
The run blocking still left plenty to be desired, but the pass protection kept Stafford from being sacked for the first time this season. The biggest issue was penalties. Four of the starting five got hit with a holding infraction, resulting in two stalled drives. Grade: B-
Ziggy Ansah got the game-ending sack and the front four recorded four additional hits on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. The run defense was below-average, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. And while it wasn’t an ideal setup, defensive end Kasim Edebali did give up a touchdown in coverage of tight end O.J. Howard. Grade: C
Rookie Jarrad Davis’s angles were far sharper than normal. He finished tied for the team lead with nine tackles and got to Winston twice, forcing a fumble the Lions recovered. Tahir Whitehead scooped up that loose ball and also managed eight tackles. Grade: B
Detroit’s secondary got dissected for stretches, but when they needed big plays, they came up with them in spades. Darius Slay intercepted his fifth pass of the season and recovered a fumble. Quandre Diggs secured his first pick and forced a fumble with a jarring open-field hit. And Glover Quin also forced a fumble, chasing down running back Doug Martin from behind and swatting the ball free. Cornerback D.J. Hayden recovered that one, and also split a sack, making up for a 40-yard pass interference call that put the Bucs in position for one of their touchdowns. Grade: A-
Matt Prater continues to be perfect in the clutch, converting yet another winning kick, this one from 46 yards out. Sam Martin, who had nursed a foot injury all week, wasn’t as sharp. He sent two of his punts into the end zone for touchbacks, nearly matching his 2016 total in one game. Grade: B
After a three-and-out to start the game, lowlighted by a questionable third-and-1 design, the Lions finally found the play-calling formula that snapped their early-game scoring issues. And the team should have had more than 14 points at the half, had it not been for Stafford’s two interceptions. The timeout usage at the end of the second quarter had helped the offense get into field-goal range before the second turnover.
Coach Jim Caldwell also made a smart challenge in the second quarter that negated a 15-yard penalty against Diggs and gave the Lions the ball.
The score was certainly closer than it should have been, but execution errors were the issue more than the game plan or play-calling on Sunday. Grade: B+