Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Special teams, coaches fail

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lion kicker Matt Prater walks off the field with teammate Michael Roberts tapping him on the helmet after a missed field goal in the third quarter.

Cincinnati — Justin Rogers grades the Lions' performance in Sunday’s 26-17 loss to Cincinnati Bengals.


Matthew Stafford completed 19-of-35 passes for 203 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He showed good touch on his deep ball, particularly on a pair of tight-window throws to Eric Ebron. Stafford’s biggest mistake was an interception when he forced a throw despite a defender hanging on him. Grade: C+

Running backs

Tion Green ran well, converting a fourth down and rushing for a 5-yard touchdown. He finished with 43 yards on seven carries. Starter Theo Riddick was far quieter, gaining fewer than 40 yards from scrimmage on eight carries and four targets in the passing game. Riddick also got blown up on a blitz that led to Stafford’s pick. Grade: C-

Wide receivers

Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones each dropped a pass and Golden Tate couldn’t hang on to a desperation deep ball that would have extended a potential game-winning drive. Combined, the group only accounted for 92 yards. Grade: D

Tight ends
Ebron dropped a third-down pass early in the game but made up for it with a difficult over-the-shoulder grab that went 33 yards into the end zone. He added four more receptions for 50 yards, including a 29-yarder into the red zone that set up the Lions’ other touchdown. Grade: B+

Offensive line

The patchwork group missing three starters blocked better than expected, limiting the Bengals talented defensive line to two sacks and three quarterback hits, while open up some decent lanes for the backs. But penalties were a problem, with four going against the group, including three against backup guard Don Barclay. He had a hold and a false start that killed a drive late in the fourth quarter, ending hopes of a comeback.  Grade: D+

Defensive line

Ziggy Ansah had a big day, coming up with three sacks against the Bengals' backup left tackle, including two drive-killers in the red zone. The starting defensive tackle tandem of A’Shawn Robinson and Akeem Spence combined for 15 tackles, but none for a loss, with the Bengals routinely testing the middle of Detroit’s defense. Grade: C


The linebackers weren’t consistent, contributing to the Bengals’ big day on the ground and utilization of the short-passing game targeting their backs. Jarrad Davis did come up with pressure on a blitz that resulted in a turnover, while Jalen Reeves-Maybin nearly came up with an interception of his own.  Grade: C-


Things started out well for the group with Quandre Diggs snagging his third interception in as many weeks and Darius Slay breaking up a pair of passes, but the back end came unglued down the stretch. Slay struggled to contain A.J. Green in the second half, missing a tackle on a big gain, drawing a pass interference and giving up a couple first down grabs. Glover Quin led the Lions with nine tackles, including one behind the line, but was beat by a backup tight end for a touchdown in the third quarter.  Grade: D

Special teams

What’s wrong with Sam Martin? The punter had a miserable day, mishitting four of his five punts. His net average was a paltry 35.8 yards, costing the Lions valuable field position throughout the day and setting the Bengals up for the game-sealing drive. In addition to Martin’s struggles, the typically reliable Matt Prater missed a 50-yard field goal. The only bright spot was Don Carey’s coverage on Martin’s only quality punt. As a gunner, Carey powered through a blocker and dropped the return man after three yards on the 60-yard boot. Grade: F


The sense of urgency was never there and neither was the play-calling. The Lions offense was ultra conservative, leaning too heavily on running the football. And with multiple fourth-down opportunities with favorable field position, the Lions opted to kick four straight times. Defensive, the Lions couldn’t figure out an effective counter to the Bengals’ running backs, who were the opposition’s only reliable weapon until the fourth quarter. Grade: F


Twitter: @justin_rogers