Re-Focused: Lions @ Raiders: Week 15
With both teams in the thick of the playoff hunt it was a must win for each side. The Raiders were trying to keep pace with Tim Tebow and the Broncos while the Lions were fighting to keep a tight grasp on their wild-card lead.
Oakland’s offense seemed to be back on track after going through a slump, while their defense had no answer for “Megatron” late in the game. The Raiders’ losing streak needs to end if they are to have any shot at taking the AFC West crown, which is as wide open, as it was when the season started.
As for Detroit, another comeback victory was just what the doctor ordered. With little help from the defense despite the return of Ndamukong Suh and Chris Houston it’s safe to say the Lions will go as Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson go. Is there a better duo in the NFL right now?
Detroit – Three Performances of Note
Is There Anyone Better?
How dominant was Calvin Johnson’s game against the Oakland Raiders? It was the highest that we at PFF have had the pleasure of grading him at with +5.0. His dominant performance vaulted him into first place as our highest-rated receiver on the year (+22.1). Johnson was targeted a team-high 13 times and brought in nine balls for a career-best 214 yards. There was a laundry list of dominant plays that he made throughout the game, but the most impressive had to be his sideline tiptoe catch that extended the game-winning drive. The catch came with 1:38 left to play and on the very next play Johnson managed to slip behind everyone in the Oakland secondary to haul in a 48-yard grab down the middle.
Turning It On As of Late
After struggling early on in the season, left tackle Jeff Backus has really put together some nice performances as of late. In the last five games he has graded out at +8.7 while only allowing one quarterback sack and one quarterback hit. Out of the 81 snaps played, Backus allowed one quarterback pressure and the Raiders had the majority of their success going after right side of the Lions offensive line instead. He spent most of the day going head to head with Kamerion Wimbley who has proved to be a handful for numerous offensive linemen around the league. In the run game, the Lions averaged 9.5 yards per carry when running right off of Backus’ backside. When Detroit rushed it anywhere else they didn’t average over 2.7 yards. Backus would have had an even better day if he wouldn’t have been flagged for holding.
Detroit’s bad day on defense can’t be placed at the feet of just one individual player, but it’s hard to argue that Chris Harris’ fill-in (John Wendling) wasn’t the biggest culprit. In Wendling’s sporadic playing time, he had held up quite well … until now. His day was filled with missed tackles (three to be exact), awful angles, and blown coverage. The missed tackles definitely contributed to his total grade of -6.7, but there was one single play that summed up his day overall. With 9:15 left to go until halftime, Palmer dropped back and threw a dart to Darrius Heyward-Bey. On the pass, Wendling had the opportunity to be a hero and make the stop well before Heyward-Bey reached the end zone, but it’s safe to say he failed mightily. As our very own Ben Stockwell would say, it was a “dreadful angle.”
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
As I mentioned before it was not a day for the defenses. If one man came to play though it was Richard Seymour (+5.4) who was truly dominate in every way. While he didn’t register a sack, his interior pass rush and ability to hunt down the quarterback was on full display. Both guards for the Lions had trouble keeping Seymour in check as he registered two quarterback hits and four quarterback pressures. As he went head-to-head with Rob Sims and Stephen Peterman, he didn’t waste anytime in showing them that they were in for a long day. When working against both guards Seymour graded out at (+5.0) overall, which was just slightly below his overall grade for the day. The only thing that hurt him was his neutral zone infraction midway through the third quarter.
I could have easily written about the entire Raiders offensive line because most of them turned in solid efforts. However, it was Samson Satele who really stuck out here. He in fact, like Calvin Johnson, had a career day. Sure he didn’t catch nine balls for 214 yards, but he did, however, have one of the best games of his four-year NFL career. Pass protection was perfect on the 46 drop-backs and of the 25 run plays there wasn’t one negatively-graded play. He also added two impressive second-level seal blocks, both coming on screens–Michael Bush on the first screen and Kevin Boss on the second. Achieving a game where you don’t have one negatively-graded play for an offensive lineman is quite the feat, so hats off to Satele.
More Disappointing Safety Play
Bad safety play is definitely the trend because like John Wendling, Matt Giordano’s play in the backend hurt the Raiders the most on a day where they had no answer for Matt Stafford and the Lions’ passing attack. Giordano had a missed tackle, but it was the poor angles and blown coverage that did him in. On the Nate Burleson touchdown pass late in the second quarter Giordano took an awful angle that ultimately led to him getting beat in and up field. He did recover and catch up to the receiver, but not until it was too late. Burleson was already crossing the goal line when got a hand on him. He actually had an okay day against the run at +0.2, but a coverage grade of -3.4 won’t turn very many heads.
– Darrius Heyward-Bey led the Raiders with nine targets. His 155-yard day made it his third 100-yard game of the year.
– The Lions defense didn’t register a hit on Carson Palmer.
– When blitzed, Matthew Stafford connected on just half of his passes for a PPF rating of -1.2.
PFF Game ball
Calvin Johnson and his career day willed the Lions back in the fourth quarter. It’s safe to say he quite possibly the biggest X factor in all of football.