Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Stafford, Zenner, Jones are top stars

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Zach Zenner of the Detroit Lions runs against Tony Brown of the Green Bay Packers during the second half.

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in their 31-0 victory over the Green Bay Packers


Like the score would suggest, many Lions players went out on a high note, Matthew Stafford included. Despite missing his top target Kenny Golladay, and the remaining crew putting a couple of balls on the ground, the quarterback managed to complete 62.5 percent of his throws for 266 yards without turning it over. Stafford's second touchdown, to TJ Jones, was a vintage throw, into a tight window. The only glaring negative from the outing were a few batted passes at the line and an interceptable ball linebacker Blake Martinez couldn't handle. Grade: B+

Running backs

Zach Zenner's addition back to the roster last month proved to be a shrewd move. He put together a series of good performances to close the year and churned out 93 yards on the ground against the Packers. That tally included a 13-yard score, plus he added a 30-yard screen to fuel another scoring series. 

Theo Riddick made the most of his handful of opportunities, while LeGarrette Blount offered up another unproductive day to cap an unproductive season. Grade: B+

More: Lions set to draft eighth; recent history of No. 8s favorable

Wide receivers/tight ends

Coming into Sunday, Detroit's four active receivers had combined for 26 catches and 206 yards on the year, but TJ Jones, Andy Jones and Brandon Powell stepped up in a big way, combining for 16 grabs, 193 yards and two scores. Andy Jones had a pair of drops and a hold that nullified a touchdown, but made up with it with some stellar blocks, including a one that sprung Zenner on his scoring run. 

For the tight ends, Levine Toilolo chipped in five grabs for 43 yards, capping a strong second half of the year. He was on the receiving end of a fake field goal and the veteran tight end deserves credit for selling himself as subbing out before the snap. Grade: A-

Offensive line

Stafford stayed upright much of the day, absorbing just one sack and two more hits. On the quarterback's first touchdown pass, he had all day to survey the field and find TJ Jones in the back of the end zone. The ground game was inconsistent, and there was too much backfield penetration at time, but they did enough to get the job done. Grade: B

Defensive line

Detroit's defensive front had a quietly effective afternoon. Damon Harrison, playing in his 17th game, had another tackle for loss, Kerry Hyder scored his first sack of the year and Romeo Okwara's hit on DeShone Kizer forced an interception. The Packers finished with 46 yards rushing, most of it coming on Kizer scrambles. Grade: A-


Jarrad Davis maintained his late-season momentum with a sack, tackle for loss and a pass breakup on a throw he should have intercepted. Devon Kennard and Eli Harold didn't register much in terms of counting stats, but did contribute to the pressure Detroit got on Green Bay's passers. Grade: A

The Detroit Lions' Quandre Diggs reacts after intercepting a pass during the second half.


Before Aaron Rodgers left the game, he was having trouble finding open receivers. Kizer didn't have much more luck, connecting on just 16 of his 35 throws for 135 yards. Darius Slay broke up a fourth down pass to end one scoring threat, while Quandre Diggs intercepted Kizer late in the fourth quarter to seal the shutout. Grade: A

Special teams

Detroit dominated the field possession battle in part because of excellent work by punter Sam Martin and the coverage units, and even Detroit's typically listless return game got in on the act with TJ Jones bringing back a punt 25 yards in the second half. 

But let's be real, Matt Prater stole the show. Not only did he make his only field-goal attempt, he perfectly executed a trick play, hitting Levine Toilolo for an 8-yard touchdown on a direct snap from the field-goal formation. Grade: A


You can say the game meant little, or the Packers were playing bad backups, but the Lions came with their own injury issues, especially at wide receiver and cornerback, and dominated from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. 

The defensive game plan was giving the Packers fits even before Rodgers exited with a concussion and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter turned in his most inspired coaching performance of the season, manufacturing 31 points out of a misfit supporting cast around Stafford. Grade: A


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers