Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Receivers shine, secondary has rough day
Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Lions' performance after the team's 31-26 win over the New York Giants.
Matthew Stafford's day started off terribly, with an egregious interception coming on an underthrown ball into double-coverage. After that, the Lions quarterback settled down and finished with 342 yards. His deep scoring strikes to Marvin Hall and Kenny Golladay were on the money, while a second touchdown to Golladay was fit into a tight window despite the Giants' pass rush collapsing his pocket and forcing an off-platform throw. Grade: B+
The Lions rotated through four backs, with Tra Carson getting the surprising start and leading the team in touches and yards on the ground. Rookie Ty Johnson was the team's most effective ball carrier, gaining 25 yards on seven carries. He had another first-down romp called back by a penalty.
As pass-catching options the group didn't offer much, but J.D. McKissic's toss back to Stafford on a trick play in the fourth quarter was well executed and contributed to the play's overall success. Grade: C-
Wide receivers/tight ends
Golladay led the team with 123 yards receiving, scoring twice in the process. He made a trio of difficult catches, including one for a touchdown that was deflected by the cornerback in coverage. On the downside, Golladay lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter, putting the defense in a bad spot with the game still undecided.
Danny Amendola was hyper-efficient, hauling in all eight of his targets for 95 yards, including a couple drive-extenders on third down. One set up Hall's only catch of the game, a smoothly run 49-yard corner route for a score. Grade: A-
The group opened a massive run lane for Carson during the opening drive but there were few lanes beyond that. Stafford was sacked four times and pressured several more. That's not all on the line, namely a sack that was the result of an unblocked blindside blitzer, but the group's performance continues to be inconsistent.
Left tackle Taylor Decker got called for a hold and was probably at fault for T.J. Hockenson's chop block, engaging a defender the rookie tight end appeared to be assigned to cut. Grade: C-
Saquon Barkley made his biggest plays in the passing game, but the Lions were stout up front, limiting the talented running back to 64 rushing yards on 19 carries. Da'Shawn Hand's return provided a lift to the group. He recorded four solo tackles and batted down a pass.
And while the pass rush continued to be inconsistent, Trey Flowers came up with a pair of sacks on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter, helping squash a potential scoring drive. Grade: B
Jarrad Davis had an impact as a blitzer, twice getting to quarterback Daniel Jones, including a forced fumble that teammate Devon Kennard scooped and scored. The linebackers also get some credit for Barkley's limited impact on the ground, but covering him proved to be an issue.
Davis was badly beaten on a wheel route early in the game and got lucky the throw was off target. Jones did find Barkley later on a short pass between Davis and Christian Jones in zone coverage. If the back doesn't stumble, the Lions probably don't catch him. Instead, the footing issues limited it to a 38-yard gain. Grade: C+
Prior to getting injured, Tracy Walker was all over the field making plays for the Lions. Other than Walker, it was a rough day for the defensive backfield. Justin Coleman was out of position most of the day, save an excellent pass breakup on fourth down in the fourth quarter. And Rashaan Melvin had an afternoon to forget, getting beat twice by rookie Darius Slayton for touchdowns and drawing a holding penalty on a third down. Grade: D
The Lions coverage units continue to shine and seemed to be even better with the re-introduction of Steve Longa back to the lineup, following his 14-month absence. Detroit's return game didn't really have any opportunities, while kicker Matt Prater knocked down one of this two long field-goal attempts. Grade: B+
The key for the defense was slowing down Barkley and pressuring Jones, and for the most part, they did enough to do that, outside of a few lapses. Some of that came via more aggressive blitzing down the stretch.
Offensively, the Lions continued their trend of getting off to a hot start, scoring 14 in the opening quarter. And when the team needed a play to stave off a rally in the fourth quarter, Darrell Bevell trusted the unit to execute a trick play and was rewarded for the risk. Grade: B+