And here we are...the big day following the Lions first WIN of the season, basking in all of the glory that we so painstakingly deserve!! WOOT!! Ladies and Gentlemen, our beloved Lions just hammered a young football team that could very easily be 4-1 right now. Think about this...the Rams lost to Oakland and Arizona by a combined 6 points. The Rams beat Washington like a red headed step child, and also won against Seattle in dominating fashion. Oakland just won a decisive game against the Chargers yesterday, and Arizona beat the defending Super Bowl champs!! The Rams have played some very good teams, and their total points spread was 77-52 (+15) coming into the game yesterday against Detroit. Now if it does not make you feel totally AWESOME to know that their points spread is NOW 83-96 (-13) AFTER leaving Detroit, then I do not know what CAN make you feel good! Yes, I did say that the Rams were by far the worst team that we were to face so far this season, but that really meant more about the rest of the teams we have played so far than it meant about the Rams. To say the very least, I am ECSTATIC over the HUGE win by the Lions yesterday, and I am happy to present you with the follow-up to my SNS W5E edition, which begins after the jump...As I began the SNS W5E this week, I made a pretty bold statement. I said, " I dare say that if they (meaning the Lions) play as well as they did against ANY of their opponents thus far, they will beat the Rams with ease". This statement was spot on in my opinion, as the Lions came through and proved my words to be truth. The Lions played an outstanding game offensively, and our special teams were solid. The defense came through when we needed it the most, even though the Rams were the team shooting themselves in the feet this time. The Lions played just as well yesterday as they did against Chicago, Philadelphia, and Green Bay, and by doing so they handed the Rams the worst loss of their season...with EASE. It was a thing of utter beauty, and a sight for my very sore eyes.
Offensively, my first statement was "I fully expect the Lions to look to establish the run early and often". Jahvid Best had a nice 12 yard run on the Lions second play offensively, and then he got the ball on the first two plays of our second drive attempt. In fact, after the first drive, it was not until late in the 2nd QTR that Best did NOT get the ball at the beginning of every drive. Furthermore, out of 11 offensive possessions (not including the kick return TD by Logan) Jahvid Best was involved at the start of ALL but 4 of them (including the pass attempt). I dare say that it was obvious that the Lions were trying very hard to establish the run in this game, and to make sure that Jahvid Best was an integral part of the offensive plan. And boy oh boy did it work...:o) Jahvid Best had 67 yards rushing and 4 catches for 37 yards, which is not astounding in regard to standout statistics. However, Best made the defense respect him, and made them focus some of their attention on stopping him, which allowed Shaun Hill more time to throw the ball and do the majority of the damage that the Lion handed out yesterday.
Next I said "I feel that our passing game will be THE key to victory this week". That statement was proven by none other than Shaun Hill himself, as he threw 21 for 32 for 227 yards and 3 TDs. I named Calvin Johnson as my key player on offense, to a Lion victory, and while he did not post out of this world stats, once again he drew a lot of attention of the Ram secondary, catching 4 balls for 54 yards and a TD. He was very close to having 5 catches for 87 yards and 2 TDs, but the 33 yard pass to him in the endzone for a TD was overturned when the review showed that he did not get both feet in bounds to "complete the process". Regardless of his final numbers in the games, I believe he WAS the key player this week on offense. While Jahvid Best was successful at taking some of the pressure off of the receivers and Shaun Hill, Calvin Johnson was even more successful in allowing Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Jahvid Best, and even Kevin Smith to get open and make great plays in the passing game. Burleson came up big with 4 catches for 56 yards and a TD, while Pettigrew had 4 catches for 26 yards and a TD, Scheffler had 4 for 41, Best had 4 for 37, and Smith had 1 for 17 (that was damn near a TD itself). While it is true that Shaun Hill made the passes to these guys, and did a very efficient job in doing so, I believe that these plays were made possible because of the attention that Calvin Johnson was garnering.
On defense, my first thoughts were "The Lions have to stop Steven Jackson, plain and simple. If Jackson is allowed to run free, and have a big game, then Sam Bradford will not look anything like a rookie QB against us and he will probably see his first 300 yard passing day against the Lions. IF the Lions can bottle up Steven Jackson, and put pressure on Bradford early, then they may be able to force him to make some mistakes". While the Lions did not stop S-Jax from gaining 100 yards rushing (he had 114), the major difference between other games and opposing running backs, and this game in particular, is that Steven Jackson DID NOT SCORE A TD! In light of that fact, his 114 yards rushing can only be described as a good effort, but it can not be classified as a BIG game, nor can it be said that Jackson ran free or all over the Lions yesterday.
Also, because of the fact that Jackson was not allowed a single explosion play yesterday (meaning a super long gain for a TD...he did have a 17 yard run), it forced Sam Bradford to attempt to beat us in the air. The rookie was pressured and beaten up all day long, and he was even sacked once by Julian Peterson. Sam Bradford did NOT throw a TD pass, he DID NOT pass for 300 yards, and he DID NOT beat the Lions in the air. What did he do? He looked like a rookie QB, completing 51.1% of his passes (23 for 45) for 215 yards and 2 INTs. Why? Bradford did not have time to pass, and ultimately beat the Lions in the air, because the Rams could not establish a consistent running game, and they could not deflate us with huge runs by Jackson. Due to the fact that we did so well against S-Jax, the rookie QB was forcing passes and making rookie mistakes, ultimately allowing the Lions to defeat the Rams yesterday.
I had named Landon Johnson as my key player on defense, with the disclaimer that whoever our MLB was would have to play very well to stop Jackson from running wild. Landon Johnson started the game at MLB, and did in fact hold his own very well in the middle before leaving the game due to injury. Spencer Havner replaced him, and did an equally decent job of holding down the middle of the defense. These guys did a great job in a backup role yesterday, and their play was one of the keys that allowed us to win the game. However, I must digress that their play was not THE key to victory for the Lions, defensively, yesterday. No...that distinction, in my opinion, clearly went to Julian Peterson. JP was all over the field yesterday, and i witnessed him making plays in all facets of the game. He had a sack, he led the team in tackles with 7 solo and 4 assists, and he was seen defending the pass over the middle against the TE on numerous occasions (he broke up a pass that would definitely have been a TD too). Key runner-ups this week were Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh, who both played outstanding games in the middle of the D-line this week. Corey Williams recorded 6 solo tackles and 1 assist, also forcing a fumble, while Kong Suh gathered up 2 solo, 1 assist, 3 pass deflections, and an INT! YEAH BABY, YEAH!
Impressively, our secondary did a very decent job at supporting the front four against the run as well. Louis Delmas, Chris Houston, Jonathon Wade, Amari Spievey, Alphonso Smith, CC Brown, and Dante Wesley combined for 20 solo tackles and 8 assists, and Alphonso Smith made a beautiful interception that he returned for a 42 yard TD...can you say PICK 6?? Welcome to the NFL Sam Bradford...LOL! Perhaps most significantly, I said "The fact of the matter is this; EVERYONE on our defense has to step up and play decent football in order for us to beat ANY team". I believe they did, and we WON!
Some of my other statements included "The Lions have to stop Steven Jackson, they have to pressure, hurry, hit and sack Bradford often, and they have to get CJ the damn ball. If they can do those 3 things, then they will beat the Rams". Jackson did not score, Bradford was hurried, hit, and sacked all day long, and CJ scored a TD...we beat the Rams. "Here is to the hope that the Lions can overcome the opposition of the referees as well, and that they can curb the stupid mistakes that we saw last week. We could play a good game, and still lose because of penalties". The Lions STILL have a lot of work to do in this area, as the committed 11 penalties for a total of 78 yards. That sort of thing will not bode well when we face more disciplined teams. The Lions got away with it this week, but certainly they must know that they have to stop making these mental errors if we hope to win games against more experienced opponents. At least the refs did not beat us this week. "I hope we hold S-Jax to less than 100 yards, no TDs, and that Bradford gets sacked 5 times at a minimum. If that happens, then our chances of VICTORY are very good this week"! Well, we almost held Jackson to less than 100 yards (114), but at least he did not score and he was contained. We sacked Bradford once, but the pressure the Lions put on him turned out to be enough, as he was hammered on several plays and never had time to sit back in the pocket and have tea. So I was a bit optimistic...Suh me...;o)
In conclusion, it feels really good to be a Lions fan at the moment. There is a lot of good things to reflect on for once, and it is nice to not hear people saying negative things about them for the time being. I believe that we should keep this win in perspective, as it was the Rams (even though the Rams have been playing very well against some good teams), but for now I think it just feels good to say that we won one and that the season is not over. I look forward to seeing what we can do against the Giants next week, and if we win THAT game, then I might break out the kool-aid and drink until my guts wrench. Until next week Lion's fans, this has been KDawg with the SNS W5E followup. GO LIONS!
**The SNS may change days next week, so keep an eye open for a possible mid-week posting or maybe a day sooner at the least.