You can’t help but feel sorry for Detroit. They are playing some good football at times against good opposition. They’re extremely competitive even being down to their third choice quarterback.
But they’ve won just one game.
Hardly fair given their level of play, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and this is the best a Detroit side has looked in an age. To play a very good Giants team so close on the road speaks volumes about them. Because the Giants are very good. They do pretty much everything well and they may just be the team to beat right now.
Lions: Performances of note
For all the talk of Ndamukong Suh (-0.9) being Defensive Rookie of the Year, maybe should people watch what happens when teams run at him. Yes, he leads DTs in sacks (5), and stops (18), and he may well win the honor, but it’s what he can’t do right now that’s costing the Lions. He found himself up against the right side of the Giants offensive line and they just used his ill discipline to open up holes for their running back. This is one of the reasons Detroit is 30th in yards-per-carry allowed. It’s a shame this element so seriously detracts from a dominant performance when it comes to getting to the quarterback. For every 5.5 rushes of Eli Manning he got some form of pressure – excellent numbers for a tackle.
He’s going to get beat at times, but how about throwing some praise the way of Jeff Backus (+2.1). 54 times he had to drop back and protect his quarterback amidst a fierce Giants pass rush, and while he surrendered a sack, there were only a further two pressures given up on the quarterback. It’s not fashionable to give Backus credit, but he continues to be one of the best left tackles in the NFC.
With their first pick of the 2011 draft the Detroit Lions select … a linebacker. Who can play any spot. They’re down to the bare bones because of injury, but let’s not fool ourselves there was much talent there to begin with. Ashlee Palmer (-3.9) was the latest guy to get a shot at playing in the middle, and the latest guy to struggle doing so. He doesn’t shed blocks well and missed two tackles. There’s not a linebacker (healthy or otherwise) on the roster you’d like to build a unit around.
Giants: Performances of note
There’s a reason why Ahmad Bradshaw (+2.2) is getting the bulk of snaps in New York. He makes good cuts and always seems to find a way to pick up extra yards after contact (68%) of his yards came after contact — he’s a handful for defenses. He does make defenders miss (four times in this game) but his real ability comes from taking what his own offense sets up for him and milking it for all it’s worth. This isn’t really a one-two punch anymore as much as it’s the Bradshaw Show featuring Brandon Jacobs (+0.8).
The Lions couldn’t run the ball in this one, and a large reason for that was Barry Cofield (+3.4). Seemingly rejuvenated this year, Cofield has been extremely active in run defense, in addition to his work pressuring the quarterback. This was a complete display where he had his way with the Lions interior, picking up a quarterback hit and a further three pressures.
If one player really disappointed it was Terrell Thomas (-1.8). He had one of those games that was an inch away from being great, as he twice got himself in position to make a play, but twice was unable to. Such fine margins were the difference between two Detroit touchdowns on a day where 130 yards of Detroit’s aerial attack came on Thomas.
Not a great day for Jahvid Best (-2.1). It never is when your longest gain is 5 yards, and his yards-after-contact of 1.7 per is in the bottom 10 league-wide.
It also wasn’t a great day for the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul (-1.8). With the Lions going pass happy he saw more action than ever before and responded with just one pressure on 31 rushes … After fumbling one snap Matt Dodge (+1.5) responded fantastically. He averaged 46.7 yards with his punts with a max hang time of 4.8 seconds.
The teams combined to miss just eight tackles in the entire game … Drew Stanton (-2.9) completed only two passes on the 11 plays pressure got to him for 3 yards.