Justin Rogers' Lions grades: Detroit holds up well before injuries torpedo effort
Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions' performance after their 23-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
David Blough put together a respectable first half, completing nine of his 16 throws as the Lions jumped out to a 14-point lead at the break. But the undrafted rookie passer fell apart in the second half, going 3-for-13 with an egregious interception that set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Grade: D
The Lions churned out more than 170 yards on the ground for the third time this season behind a three-headed attack of Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough and rookie Ty Johnson. Impressively, each back averaged at least 4.7 yards per carry.
Ty Johnson and Scarbrough had good gains on Detroit's first touchdown drive, while Kerryon Johnson powered in for the team's second on a fourth-and-goal. Ty Johnson unexpectedly added 51 yards in the closing seconds of the first half, most on a 40-yard romp, setting up a field goal as time expired in the second quarter. Grade: A-
Wide receivers/tight ends
Kenny Golladay appeared primed for a big day before he exited the game in the second quarter with a concussion. Beyond him, Detroit's pass-catchers combined for eight grabs for 48 yards. Rookie Travis Fulgham, who finished his first season without a catch, dropped a key third-down pass late in the fourth quarter, opening the window for the Packers to complete their comeback. Grade: C-
The pass protection held up well against the talented Packers rush. Green Bay finished with only three hits on Blough, including a single sack. And on the ground, Detroit's front opened up holes better than they have all season, as the backs collectively averaged better than 6.0 yards per attempt.
The only major downside to the performance was a pair of holding calls on right tackle Tyrell Crosby. Grade: A-
The Lions got pressure on Aaron Rodgers up front, but rarely got home. The lone sack came from a safety blitz. Against the run, the Lions made it tough for Packers back Aaron Jones, but he still managed to reach 100 yards with his 25 carries. Grade: C+
The linebackers contributed to a decent job against the run, plus largely held the underneath options in check while in coverage, at least until Jones got free on a late-game screen that set up the game-winning field goal. Grade: C-
Rodgers wasn't sharp, overthrowing or underthrowing a dozen throws, but Detroit's defensive backs also made things tough for the future Hall of Fame quarterback, breaking up six passes, including a couple in the end zone.
Things started to unravel a bit when Darius Slay came up limping in the third quarter, but the three-time Pro Bowler refused to leave the game for long. That's admirable, in a contest that didn't mean much for the Lions. And it's not like he was blocking a better option on the bench. When Slay was briefly off the field, Amani Oruwariye was badly beaten by Davante Adams for a touchdown.
The rookie corner made up for the mistake with a late-game interception, but Blough and the offense couldn't capitalize on the turnover. Grade: B
Matt Prater was perfect, including drilling a 56-yarder. Punter Sam Martin was also sharp, especially after an early effort slipped into the end zone for a touchback. He finished the day with a 40.0-yard net average. The return game and coverage units didn't do or allow much damage, either way, but at the very least, the units avoided unnecessary penalties that have often been an issue. Grade: A-
The game plan was good enough to win, before injuries impacted both units. The offense proved too depleted to overcome the loss of Golladay in the first half, while Slay's injury sabotaged a defense that was giving the Packers fits.
The coaching staff did what it could to shuffle the deck, moving linebacker Jason Cabinda to fullback and cornerback Jamal Agnew to receiver, but despite the roster's best effort, it wasn't enough. Grade: B+