ReFo: Dolphins @ Lions, Week 10
Fresh of a 37-0 dismantling of the San Diego Chargers, Miami’s offense had a much harder time playing against a real defense this week in Detroit. Held to negative yardage in the first quarter, the Dolphins’ 16 points actually overstate their offensive production- their only touchdown came thanks to a blocked field goal returned three yards shy of pay dirt which Ryan Tannehill quickly cashed in on a swing pass to Mike Wallace.
That’s not to say that the Lions’ offense was miles ahead, even with Calvin Johnson back in the lineup for the first time in more than a month, but when the game was on the line, Matthew Stafford took advantage of some questionable time management by the opposition and connected with Theo Riddick for the go-ahead touchdown with under a minute to play. The Lions have now won four straight and owe much of their 7-2 record to excellent defensive play, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier with trips to Arizona, New England, and Green Bay looming in the season’s second half.
Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note
Mike Pouncey, RG: -4.9
Breakdown: Maybe he’s still hampered by a bad hip, or maybe this is just what Ndamukong Suh has been doing to interior linemen his whole career. Pouncey allowed two sacks and four hurries (most of which was to Suh) and only by sending aide through consistent double teams was Pouncey spared the same shame in the run game that he experienced attempting to pass protect.
Signature Play: Q1, 5:41. Suh grabs both of Pouncey’s arms and tosses him aside before blasting inside and taking down Tannehill at the top of his drop.
Brent Grimes, CB: +1.1 coverage
Breakdown: Tasked with covering the unholy catching machine that is Calvin Johnson for significant portions of the game, Grimes can come away feeling proud of the work he did against Megatron. Though he was responsible for a touchdown and 90 of Johnson’s 113 yards, he was in close coverage on every single target and came away with a pass deflection and a pick on two of the eight passes thrown his direction.
Signature Stat: Facing a short field after a Ryan Tannehill interception midway through the second quarter, Stafford took a second shot deep to Johnson. Grimes high-pointed the underthrown ball with an incredible one-handed interception to kill the Lions’ drive before it could begin.
Earl Mitchell, DT: +2.7
Breakdown: With an embarrassment of riches along the defensive line, it’s time to give due to someone who’s forced to split time in Miami, but would be an every-down player on most other rosters. The fifth-year pro tallied two tackles for a loss and a couple of hurries as he squeezed the absolute most out of just 22 snaps.
Signature Stat: Mitchell now has 18 defensive stops on the year without a missed tackle.
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Ezekial Ansah, DE: +4.9
Breakdown: Continuing on his sophomore surge, Ansah showed that he doesn’t need Matt Kalil across from him to have a good day. Two sacks and three hurries are a fine return, but he really made waves in run defense, nearly always in control of his block and quickly shedding, earning four stops on the day.
Signature Play: 14:20, Q3. Fighting against a thoroughly overmatched Ja’Wuan James, Ansah worked his way inside to strip the ball from Daniel Thomas while simultaneously drawing a holding penalty.
Ndamukong Suh, DT: +7.0
Breakdown: Continuing on a string of performances that will ensure someone will be backing up a Brink’s truck to his house in March, Suh made life miserable for Miami’s interior offensive line, collecting a sack, two hits, and four hurries while also notching two tackles for a loss in the run game.
Signature Stat: Suh has recorded two or more pressures in every game this year besides Week 1, and he has a positive run defense grade in all but two games. As it sits, he leads all defensive tackles with a +23.2 grade.
Dominic Raiola, C: -4.1
Breakdown: As good as they were in the trenches defensively, Detroit’s offensive line was a mess. It might not be fair to single out just one, but Raiola’s struggles were the most pronounced, as he gave up three hurries and compounded that with some less than stellar run blocking. He was one of six linemen for the Lions to allow at least three pressures on the afternoon.
Signature Play: Q1, 4:06. It helps when your quarterback can move in the pocket and throw a touchdown pass in spite of pressure, but there’s no excuse for letting a defensive tackle 10 yards into the backfield as quickly as Raiola did here.
PFF Game Ball
With multiple standouts on defense, it was Ndamukong Suh who made the biggest impact.