Denver — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance in their 27-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't matter, but the Lions should strongly consider going to backup Kyle Sloter for the season finale. David Blough led two scoring drives against the Broncos, but most of the work on the second came via the ground. The undrafted rookie finished with a dismal stat line, completing just 12 of his 24 throws for 117 yards.
Blough also ate four sacks, many where he held on to the ball too long. The offense is spinning its wheels with him under center and Detroit couldn't do any worse by giving Sloter a look against Green Bay. Grade: F
In our first look at the tandem of Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough, the duo operated effectively, rushing for 76 yards on 18 carries. Rookie Ty Johnson contributed another 20 yards with three totes, for a collective 4.6 yards per carry from the group.
Unfortunately, there were minimal contributions in the pass game, with a 1-yard grab by Johnson being the extent of the damage through the air. Grade: B-
Wide receivers/tight ends
Kenny Golladay paced the Lions once again, hauling in six balls for 66 yards, while also catching his league-best 11th touchdown with a high-effort stretch across the goal line on a short screen.
Beyond that, Detroit's pass-catchers combined for 50 yards on 10 targets. Grade: C-
Yeah, Blough ate four sacks, but, as noted, much of the blame falls on the young quarterback for holding on to the ball too long. Given how depleted the unit was, starting a pair of backups, including third-string guard Oday Aboushi, Blough had enough time on most drop backs and the run lanes were decent.
Aboushi did get hit with a false start in the red zone, which helped keep the Lions out of the end zone in the first quarter. Grade: C
Once again the pressure was almost nonexistent. Not only did the Lions fail to record a sack, they mustered just one hit on rookie quarterback Drew Lock, when Devon Kennard popped him and caused an incompletion in the fourth quarter.
Against the run, the Lions had their moments, especially early. But they wore down late, allowing Phillip Lindsay to break through the front for a 27-yard touchdown, part of a 109-yard day. Grade: F
Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Steve Longa were asked to shoulder the load after Jahlani Tavai went out with an injury in the first half. The tandem combined for 15 stops, but they had little impact slowing down the Broncos on the ground.
Additionally, Reeves-Maybin picked up a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a touchdown drive for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head/neck area. Grade: D-
Lock had an efficient day, but the Lions secondary did a decent job limiting the big play, allowing only three catches of 15 or more yards and none longer than 20. Darius Slay broke up two passes, including one in the end zone, while Tavon Wilson also knocked away a potential score on third down, forcing a field goal.
Slay committed one of the group's two penalties, a pass interference infraction on third down that extended a Broncos drive that ended in the go-ahead touchdown. Grade: C
Jamal Agnew's punt return for a touchdown was Detroit's best play of the day. That score was supplemented by solid punting by Sam Martin, although the coverage wasn't as reliable as it could have been, allowing a pair of punts to be brought back for 22 yards and the kickoff to start the second half to be taken out to near midfield.
Beyond those hiccups, there were two penalties on special teams, including a gratuitous late hit out of bounds by Longa. Grade: B
The offense is a mess and appears to be unsalvageable with the current personnel. As noted above, it might time to see what Sloter can do, but the team proved reluctant to make a mid-game switch this week, despite Blough's struggles.
Defensively, the game plan was a classic bend-don't-break strategy against a rookie passer, and after allowing just 13 points through three quarters, it was working well enough.
But the Lions fell apart once again. The inability to figure out how to get the roster over the hump in close games continues to fall at the feet of the coaching staff. Grade: D