ReFo: Lions @ Cardinals, Week 11

Steve Palazzolo highlights notable players from the Cardinals' Week 11 win over Detroit.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Lions @ Cardinals, Week 11

2014-REFO-WK11-DET@ARZThere weren’t many experts that circled this week’s game between the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals as a key matchup in the NFC, but here they were in Week 11 not only battling for playoff implications but also first-round bye status.

The Cardinals got off to a fast start in the first quarter on the strength of two touchdowns from wide receiver Michael Floyd, and after the Lions fought back with two field goals of their own, the scoring came to a screeching halt. Both defenses controlled much of the action, as the running games were stymied and turnovers were forced in the secondary.

Arizona sacked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford four times, three of which came in the second half to put the Lions behind schedule offensively and thwarted any comeback attempt. The Lions’ final drive stalled after a sack and a miscommunication on an early shotgun snap with 3:01 to go in the game and after a punt, the Cardinals sealed it up with a key third down conversion from QB Drew Stanton to WR Larry Fitzgerald on 3rd-and-11. Here’s a look at his week’s key performers.

Detroit Lions – Performances of Note

Travis Swanson, RG: -4.2 and Rob Sims, LG: -3.2

Breakdown: Both guards struggled for the Lions, particularly in the running game where they graded at -6.1. Detroit managed two big runs that accounted for the majority of their yards, but for the most part, they were unable to get much going on the ground, and it started with poor guard play.

Signature Plays: Swanson was easily shed by Cardinals DT Dan Williams on 3rd-and-1 with 48 seconds to go in the third quarter to force the punt while Sims struggled with stunts throughout the afternoon with the 13:27 mark of the second quarter a good example of his inability to pass off his man and pick up DE Tommy Kelly who got a free shot at Stafford.

Matthew Stafford, QB: -3.7

Breakdown: It felt like an all or nothing type day for Stafford who failed to get into any kind of rhythm. He showed off the arm at times, whether drilling the ball to Golden Tate in between defenders with 13:27 to go in the second or scrambling or hitting Calvin Johnson with a rope on a crossing route that was dropped with 2:48 to go in the second. It was the easier stuff that failed Stafford, whether overthrowing passes in the flat or throwing inaccurately to allow defenders to make plays on the ball. Throw in a couple throws into coverage and it was not a great overall day for Stafford.

Signature Plays: With 4:06 to go in the second, Stafford failed to see CB Jerraud Powers peel off his man and threw a slant that should have been picked off. He later forced one into double coverage with 4:14 to going the third quarter, with FS Rashad Johnson making the catch for the interception on this one.

DeAndre Levy, OLB: +2.5

Breakdown: There were some strong performances on defense for the Lions, but it was Levy’s continued strong play that led the way. He’s now graded positively in nine of 10 games, and other than a bad whiff on RB Andre Ellington in the open field, this was another strong effort. He finished at +3.1 in the run game and led the team with four stops.

Signature Play: With 13:31 to go in the game, Levy made a quick read and beat center Lyle Sendlein to the point of attack to stone Ellington for a 1-yard gain.

Arizona Cardinals – Performances of Note

Dan Williams, DT: +4.3

Breakdown: The Cardinals had a strong defensive line performance of their own, including impressive efforts from Tommy Kelly (+2.3) and Calais Campbell (+1.9). Williams played only 19 snaps, but he made a big impact both against the run (+2.7) and the pass (+1.5).

Signature Plays: Williams dominated C Dominic Raiola on back-to-back plays early in the first quarter. He bullied Raiola right into Stafford’s lap for a pressure with 11:19 to go, then on 3rd-and-1, Williams stood up and easily shed Raiola to make the stop and force the punt.

Drew Stanton, QB: -2.6

Breakdown: Despite the win, Stanton’s second opportunity to replace starting QB Carson Palmer was marred by a few questionable decisions. He was intercepted by LB Josh Bynes early in the second quarter as he threw the post route but failed to see Bynes in underneath coverage who came away with the easy pick. It was more of the same later in the quarter as at the 2:00 mark, Stanton threw a slant right into the hands of CB Cassius Vaughn for his second interception of the day. Stanton later got away with yet another risky throw, this time an inaccurate crossing route that was dropped by FS James Ihedigbo late in the third quarter.

Signature Plays: There was some good for Stanton, whether it’s taking advantage of a free play to throw a jump ball to Floyd for his first touchdown or his accurate out route to Floyd for the second score. Stanton then threw the biggest pass of the game as he hit Larry Fitzgerald on the dig route on 3rd-and-11 with 2:32 to go in the game, a conversion that secured the game for the Cardinals.

Tyrann Mathieu, SS/CB: +1.5

Breakdown: Arizona’s defense has some versatile players on the back end and no one typifies their style of play like Mathieu. Whether lining up at safety or in the slot, blitzing or playing the run, Mathieu is asked to do a lot on their defense. It wasn’t a perfect afternoon, particularly his two missed tackles, but he was once again all over the field making an impact.

Signature Plays: Mathieu did a nice job of side-stepping RB Joique Bell on the first play from scrimmage to get the hit on Stafford, and he closed quickly knock away an out-route to RB Theo Riddick with 4:17 to go in the third quarter.

PFF Game Ball

The entire defensive line did a nice job for the Cardinals, but DE Tommy Kelly gets the game ball for his +2.3 overall grade on 39 snaps while notching a team-high five hurries.


Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Dohkay

    Game Ball should go to the refs. I had them at +22.1 as they made some game-changing plays.

    • eYeDEF

      Man, see this is what concerns me most about Stafford, he can have days like this when he just reverts to poor form. A lot of these bad outings always seem to happen for him later in the season too. It’s not like he’s the most accurate passer out there already do I can understand the trepidation Caldwell has on giving him the green light, because even though he’s got more weapons now it doesn’t seem to reflect in improved accuracy for him when you consider he’s actually had a handful of games where he’s been even less accurate than he was yesterday.

      I understand his line did him no favors, maybe he gets more rattled then the average quarterback does when he gets hit or sacked?

      • Dohkay

        This offense is so painful I don’t know what to say. Our strategy for attacking the Cards (top 5 run defense and bottom 5 pass defense) was to run the ball and have long, time0sustaining drives with short passes. Todd Bowles was probably giggling the whole time.

        Last year we had the 6th ranked offense in YPG. This year we massively upgraded our WR2 and TE and are ranked 21st in YPG. I get that we’ve had a lot of injuries (Calvin, Fauria, Ebron, Pettigrew, Bush, Riddick) have all missed multiple games but how can you explain that? Linehan and Lombardi.

        Stafford is not the most accurate QB out there (ranked 16th last season just behind Brady and ahead of Wilson) but with more weapons it should only open up the pass game. Instead we’ve decided to close it up. When we’re forced to mount a big comeback (down 2+ scores) they let him throw it more and he plays better despite being in worse situations as the defense can play the pass.

        We need to pass to open up the run, not the other way around. We need to stop trying to play ball-control and manage the game and instead put up points and put more pressure on the opposing team. We finally have a defense that can bail us out from turnovers which will happen (Stafford is a gunslinger) and we finally have more than just Megatron to throw the ball to yet we are putting the reins on Stafford…

  • Mike

    Ugh the officiating is all anyone should be talking about today. A spot that an arrogant crew refused to move even 1 inch after review, a “taunting” call at the most crucial juncture of the game after AZ players had “flexed” all day without consequence, a ridiculous, rule changing punt return play, personal foul facemask on an OL (isn’t this illegal hands to face??). Jerome Boger is an imbecile.

    • manphibian

      You can flex/dance/whatever, as long as you don’t do it AT an opposing player. This is a simple, longstanding rule. The player quite clearly was talking to the AZ sideline before taunting directly at them with a ref a few steps away. If he turns up the field first, no penalty.

      More importantly though, why is that guy celebrating a routine punt coverage while down 8 with less than 3 minutes on the clock? Lions fans should be calling for that guys job, not blaming the refs for the super-obvious boneheaded penalty he committed.

      Also, it was completely meaningless. It just meant that AZ ran out the clock by kneeling at the 50 instead of the 35. In no way was it “the most crucial juncture of the game.”

      • Mike

        You picked a single point from my comment while ignoring the fact that the game was indeed a train wreck. This is a national spectacle at this point–not a mirage Lions fans have created.

        AZ is a very good team and the officiating did not hand them the game, but it was BRUTAL and Jerome Boger is an imbecile.

      • Dohkay

        Congrats, you refuted 1 of the 4 calls he mentioned. Flexing is one of the lamest taunting penalties ever (and given the critical juncture of the game it was a bit much to have it play a factor in field position). A stupid play by the Lion player but probably best served as a no-call. Players get into shoving matches that warrant a penalty more than that but those usually get nothingg called.

        A few more impressive spots from the refs:

        The latter being the game-clinching 3rd down play that came after Detroit used their final timeouts to stop the clock and thus had no challenge available. Given the lack of overturn on the Ebron first down (yes it was a first down I don’t care what Jerome Bogar says) I’m sure I would be arguing even more as they wouldn’t have overturned it anyways.

        • manphibian

          Notice that I didn’t in any way defend Boger and his crew for the game as a whole? They were awful (and the Cards had a few non-calls to complain about them as well, but of course those are easier to ignore when you win).
          I only mentioned that single call because I keep seeing Lions fans bring it up. It was in no way a bad call, and it had absolutely no impact on the game.

          • Dohkay

            It had no impact only because it was compounded by another bad call on the Fitzgerald catch. Had they at least gotten that one correct Arizona would be punting from the 50 instead of the 35 thanks to the taunting penalty.

            It makes an already difficult situation (80 yards to go with under 2 minutes and no timeouts) even more difficult (90-95 yards to go).

  • Rene Martinez

    The refs were bad, but Detroit’s offense was atrocious on their own anyway.

  • Jason Williams

    This is my team. Tough, make the big plays when they have to.

    Still fantasizing about what the Bears could have been with Arians at the helm.

    really helps that they play all their games at 3pm so I get to see most of their games on RedZone.

    At Seattle next week is the penultimate test. Win that and I start rearranging my finances to buy Super Bowl tickets :)

    • eYeDEF

      Congrats on the dream season so far. It will be a great matchup this weekend.

      • Tim Edell

        Hes not a Cardinals fan , heck hes not a Bears fan- he just has to find someone who is winning to jump on the wagon!

        • eYeDEF

          Uhh really? Wtf?

          Yeah I’m looking at his comment history now. So he’s a textbook bandwagoneer. How bizarre. I didn’t really think people like him really existed.