Justin Rogers’ Lions grades: Woeful defensive performance lets Packers operate at will

Detroit News

Justin Rogers
 
| The Detroit News

Detroit — Justin Rogers grades the Detroit Lions’ performance in their 31-24 loss to the Packers

Quarterback

Prior to exiting the game with a rib injury late in the fourth quarter, Matthew Stafford was playing well enough to keep the Lions in a tight contest with the Packers. Yeah, he missed Marvin Jones on a deep crosser in the first quarter, and the offense had a poorly timed three-and-out in the third quarter, but otherwise, Stafford was efficient, completing 24 of 34 with a score and no turnovers. 

Chase Daniel stepped in late and nearly led a touchdown drive, but a penalty wiped out his scoring scramble. Grade: B+

Running backs

The Lions didn’t run the ball a lot with their backs getting just 13 carries, but they finished two long drives by punching in short touchdowns. The group also added seven catches for 59 yards, with 50 of that coming on three screen passes on a second-quarter scoring drive. Grade: B

Wide receivers/tight ends

Danny Amendola paced the group with six catches for 66 yards, including a couple of key grabs in Packers’ territory that set up touchdowns. T.J. Hockenson also had six receptions, but it should have been eight as he dropped two across the middle. He did grab a share of the team lead with his sixth touchdown reception in the opening quarter, scooting across the goal line on a well-designed shovel pass near the goal line.

Marvin Jones finished with four catches but was robbed of a fifth. He made a ridiculous effort to get both feet down on a 35-yard pass just short of the end zone, but even though the replay review seemed to show he did what was necessary to complete the process, the ruling on the field ended up standing. Grade: B

Offensive line

It wasn’t a banner day for the offensive line, which gave four sacks and committed multiple penalties. Three of the sacks came in the second quarter, twice knocking the Lions out of Packers’ territory. And a holding infraction against Matt Nelson, making his first start, wiped a touchdown off the board late in the fourth quarter.  Grade: D+

Defensive line

The Lions accomplished one of their key goals coming into the game, limiting the damage the Packers did on the ground. Aaron Jones finished with a modest 69 yards on 15 carries and the Packers, as a team, averaged just under four yards per attempt. 

Not surprisingly, given the absences, the Lions struggled to generate much pass-rush pressure. Aaron Rodgers is elusive, no doubt, but one quarterback hit and zero sacks played a big role in the quarterback’s efficient day.  Grade: C-

Linebackers

The Lions got almost nothing from their linebackers. Jamie Collins paced the group with six empty tackles, while Jahlani Tavai continued his disappointing sophomore campaign, finishing with three tackles, while getting beat in coverage multiple times. Grade: D-

Secondary

It was a day to forget for cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who got beat for two touchdowns in the first half and got hit with a defensive holding call on third down that extended the Packers’ opening drive in the second half that ended in a touchdown.

In total, Rodgers sliced the Lions up for 26 completions on 33 throws, with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Grade: D-

Special teams

Punter Jack Fox wasn’t at his best, with two subpar boots in the first half, but he still finished with a respectable 44.0-yard net average, while Matt Prater made his only field goal, a 32-yard chip shot.

Detroit’s biggest special teams play came when Jamal Agnew broke free for a 71-yard return late in the fourth quarter, keeping Detroit’s comeback hopes alive. Those ended when Miles Killebrew wasn’t able to recover the onside kick after Prater’s field goal. Grade: B+

Coaches

Given the ridiculous amount of injuries the Lions had coming into the game, the team certainly put up a valiant effort in defeat. The offensive game plan was solid, and outside the three-and-out in the third quarter, was good enough to win.

Defensively, the team didn’t have enough answers. Injuries can’t be an excuse, but missing their top two defensive ends, nose tackle and two of their top-three corners was problematic.

Losing Everson Griffen to COVID-19 reserve over the weekend was a crushing blow, which proved to be a death knell to the pass-rush. Grade: B-

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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