DEN-DET Grades: Broncos defense leads the way, Stafford struggles
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s Denver-Detroit game, including the highest-graded players for each team
— Entering the weekend as our lowest graded quarterback, Matthew Stafford (-5.8) did nothing to lift himself from the bottom of our rankings last night. There were glimpses of what Stafford can do on throws down the middle of the field, but throwing to his left Stafford was extremely poor with Calvin Johnson (+2.5) bailing him out of an interception early in the game against Aqib Talib. Stafford wouldn’t be denied, failing to read David Bruton (-2.2) cutting under another throw to his left later in the game. In grading terms, this is the worst start to a season of Stafford’s career.
— After a slow start to his time in Detroit, we started to see the real Haloti Ngata (+1.7) for the Lions last night. A customary tipped pass reading Peyton Manning’s (+2.4) passing lane led to an interception for Glover Quin and while he didn’t really make his mark in the ground game, he left his mark on Manning with two hits to go with his batted pass.
— While his quarterback toiled, Calvin Johnson (+2.5) did his part in an entertaining back and forth battle with Aqib Talib (-0.5). Targeted nine times against the Broncos’ number one corner, Johnson snagged seven receptions for 70 yards while also drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Johnson’s highlight reel play came with five minutes left in the first half, adjusting to a throw behind him to snag the ball in front of Talib who surely thought he had an interception.
CB Rashean Mathis (+3.2)
LB Josh Bynes (+3.2)
WR Calvin Johnson (+2.5)
DT Haloti Ngata (+1.7)
DE Devin Taylor (+1.7)
— There are times in games, and even entire games, where Von Miller (+6.4) is simply unblockable and last night was one of those games, with LaAdrian Waddle (-9.5) serving as his unfortunate victim. Miller’s blend of physicality and athleticism were in full view, with his dip move particularly devastating, as he seemed to be able to get to and turn the corner on Waddle to pressure Stafford at will.
— Only Matthew Stafford entered this weekend’s games with a lower PFF grade among quarterbacks than Peyton Manning (+2.4). But, after recording his first positive grade since Week 17 last season Manning’s 2015 finally has some positive momentum. Manning was in control of his intermediate passing (6 of 8 for 73 yards, 1 TD, +3.2 PFF passing grade) and was the beneficiary of his receivers winning on jump balls against Darius Slay (-3.2) to boost his deep passing numbers (2 of 2 for 79 yards, 1 TD, -0.1 PFF passing grade).
— The Broncos defense limited the Lions to a yard and a half per carry on the ground and a big part of that success was the play of Brandon M. Marshall (+1.4) and T.J. Ward (+2.0). The pair combined for 11 stops (seven for Marshall) with seven of those coming against the run (three for Ward) cleaning up for some strong work by the defensive line with Lions’ runners gaining only eight yards before contact in the entire game.
ED Von Miller (+6.4)
CB Bradley Roby (+3.7)
QB Peyton Manning (+2.4)
S T.J. Ward (+2.0)
RT Ryan Harris (+1.8)