Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Stafford, secondary excel

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford scrambles out of pressure and throws a long reception to Marvin Jones Jr. in the second quarter against the Bears.

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions’ performance in Saturday’s 20-10 victory over the Chicago Bears:


Matthew Stafford was sharp, completing better than 75 percent of his passes, while showing elusiveness to extend plays on more than one occasion. He missed one key throw, a would-be touchdown to Eric Ebron on a drive on which the Lions settled for a field goal, but was otherwise efficient, not turning the ball over. Grade: A

Running backs

The tandem of Theo Riddick and Tion Green made the most of the run lanes provided, amassing 84 yards on 18 carries, while Ameer Abdullah chipped in eight on his lone tote. As pass catchers, the group was relatively quiet, but Abdullah had a critical grab in the third quarter, making a tackler miss on third down to pick up the first, setting up a touchdown. The biggest negative was a fumble, lost by Riddick, when he landed on a defender before having the ball ripped free. Grade: B+

More: Wojo: Lions getting by with competence under pressure

Wide receivers

Marvin Jones’ 58-yard reception on a desperation heave was one of the game’s most-important plays, more than making up for a drop early in the contest. TJ Jones was efficient, catching all three of his targets, including a 3-yard touchdown, before exiting with a shoulder injury. Golden Tate continues to be a go-to option on third down. Kenny Golladay would have had a bigger day had a 48-yard catch at the end of the first half not been overturned due to offensive pass interference. Grade: B+

Tight ends

There weren’t any big gains from the tight end group, but Ebron went up to make a tough grab for a third quarter touchdown. Darren Fells and Michael Roberts weren’t targeted, but played an understated role in the run blocking, though Fells got hit with a holding call. Grade: B+

Offensive line

The holes the group opened for the backs were a nice change of pace, with every carry going for positive yardage. The pass protection was less consistent, and Stafford took some shots, especially from pressure up the middle. But that was a patchwork crew, operating without three starters much of the day, so we’re willing to cut them a bit of slack. Grade: C

Defensive line

The pass-rush pressure wasn’t much to write home about — with one sack and three hits from the front four — but the primary objective against the Bears is shutting down the run and the Lions gave Jordan Howard almost no breathing room. After letting Chicago run for more than 200 yards last month, Detroit kept it under 3.0 yards per carry this go-round. Grade: A-


The gap integrity by the linebackers played a big role in bottling up the Bears on the ground. You can really see rookie Jarrad Davis making positive progress down the stretch. And when the Bears looked to run the zone-read, which has been an issue for the Lions defense all season, Tahir Whitehead snuffed it out for a loss. Grade: B+


Detroit’s secondary got its hands on eight balls, intercepting three. Darius Slay continues to be in the right place at the right time and isn’t letting his opportunities to make a play go to waste, while Quandre Diggs looked even more at home at safety in his third game at the spot, breaking up a third-down completion with a big hit and picking off a pass in the end zone. Grade: A

More: Niyo: Lions' Darius Slay gets picky at the right time

Special teams

Matt Prater was perfect, knocking down both of his field-goal attempts. Return man Jamal Agnew returned to the lineup and continued to look electric, although his best effort was called back because of a holding call. Sam Martin shanked one punt and sent another too far, resulting in a touchback, but averaged 45.5 yards on his boots. Grade: B+


The Lions controlled the pace of the game, running the ball effectively, passing with efficiency and forcing a rookie quarterback to try to beat them by shutting down the Bears’ strength. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter also drew up some nice designs in the red zone. The only thing not to like was the way the Lions coasted to the finish line. The Bears were allowed to hang around just enough to have a shot in the fourth quarter. Grade: B+