ReFo: Giants @ Lions, Week 1
Ben Stockwell reviews how the Lions shined brightly in their Monday Night Football debut while the Giants were less than polished all around.
ReFo: Giants @ Lions, Week 1
Another season of Monday Night Football kicked off with a comfortable victory for the Detroit Lions as they began their quest to return to the playoffs under new head coach Jim Caldwell. Off to a fast start by capitalizing on a bust and collision between Stevie Brown and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the Lions never looked back, always able to keep the Giants at arm’s length whenever they made an effort to close the gap.
For the Giants this was a continuation of the troublesome offensive performances from preseason. The short passing game particularly ineffective even if the intermediate passing game brought some promising gains especially over the middle of the field. The defense had its moments but the big plays took their toll and left the offense with too much to overcome.
New York Giants – Performances of Note
Prince Amukamara, CB, +3.1
Breakdown: Starting with a positive for the Giants, Amukamara put in a strong performance in coverage surrendering only one catch for nine yards while breaking up two passes aimed for Calvin Johnson and Joseph Fauria. His three stops were also only topped by Jason Pierre-Paul’s five.
Signature Play: With nobody to cover to his side of the field at 3:41 in the first quarter Amukamara located and tracked the post route by Calvin Johnson from the opposite of the field. Closing to lay a hit, Amukamara separated Johnson from the ball and swatted the ball away on the ground to ensure the incompletion.
Victor Cruz, WR, -1.9
Breakdown: An ineffective night for Cruz, dropping as many passes as he snagged in a performance perfectly in sync with the Giants’ current offensive struggles. This marked the fifth multi-drop game of Cruz’s career and is tied for his fewest receptions since his NFL debut back in 2011 when he was only targeted once on 10 snaps.
Signature Stat: All but one of Cruz’s targets came more than ten yards down the field, in stark contrast to his more typical target distribution closer to the line of scrimmage.
Player: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, -4.1
Breakdown: An early play allowed him to defeat a block by Golden Tate to register a defensive stop but aside from that first impression this was much of the same from Kiwanuka. A disappointment on his return to defensive end a year ago Kiwanuka didn’t add to that stop and added nothing of any substance as a pass rusher in an ineffective performance.
Signature Stat: This marked the 14th time in 17 games since he returned to defensive end that Kiwanuka has earned a negative pass rushing grade.
Detroit Lions – Performances of Note
Matthew Stafford, QB, +6.1
Breakdown: Stafford came out of the gate firing last night and lit the Giants’ up all over the field. He evaded the rush well to find space to exploit the coverage bust for the opening touchdown and followed that up with strong and accurate passing all over the field. Perhaps the most annoying blot will be his throw slightly behind Eric Ebron late in the second quarter that allowed Stevie Brown to recover and deny his rookie tight end a debut touchdown.
Signature Stat: Often a weakness in his arsenal, Stafford was on point on short passes last night going 16-of-17 for 159 yards.
Ndamukong Suh, DT, +2.0
Breakdown: A bright start and a bright finish laid the foundations for a solid start to the season for Suh. Disruptive early against John Jerry and J.D. Walton, Suh also got the penetration that blew up the Giants’ final fourth down play that ultimately allowed the Lions to run out the clock and finish the win.
Signature Stat: Suh’s +2.4 run defense grade is the third highest of his career to date bettered only by two home performances against Green Bay (2010, 2013).
Golden Tate, WR, +1.6 (Receiving)
Breakdown: Brought in to improve the Lions’ production at wide receiver across from Calvin Johnson, Tate got off to an excellent, productive start. He made his name in Seattle with sure hands and work after the catch and continued that blue print last night catching each pass targeted to him and averaged more than five yards after the catch per reception.
Signature Stat: Forced three missed tackles in the passing game to tie for the league lead with four other wide receivers after Week 1.
PFF Game Ball
In a marquee matchup against one of the best cornerback’s from last season Calvin Johnson stole the primetime spotlight and the game away from the New York Giants.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.