Here we are once again, coming off a close loss to a very good team. Should we hang it up and say that the season is over? I say HELL NO! There is a LOT of football left to play ladies and gentlemen, and we will have back our starting QB after next week's bye week! The Lions are now 1-5 going into the bye week, but all is certainly NOT lost. It is clearly evident that this team has vastly improved from last year and the year before in my eyes, and I am sure that a lot of you see it as well. These are not the same old Lions, and they showed it by never giving up in any of their losses thus far. Even when the chips were down yesterday, you could still see the Lions giving it everything they had. Even after Shaun Hill and Zack Follet went down, the Lions did not give up. Of course, I am disappointed right along with the rest of you that we did not win yesterday, but I can honestly say that I saw a lot of good things along with the bad. Yes, Drew Stanton threw a game ending INT late in the 4th QTR...BUT he did come into the game cold, was calm, cool, and collected, and passed for 222 yards and a TD (mostly in the 2nd half) on 19 completions over 34 attempts (55.9%). Some of you may be thinking "Yeah, and what is good about that?". My reply would be to remind you just how crappy Shaun Hill was in his 1st appearance in relief of Stafford....9 for 19 for 88 yards and an INT in almost exactly the same amount of time. Not only that, but Bryant Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew did not help with untimely drops, not to mention the unfortunate turnover by Nate Burleson. I have said it a million times...Drew Stanton can be our #2 QB, if he were given a chance to get comfortable like Hill was. That is beside the point here however, as I am here to recap my weekly post. Without further adieu, I present you with the follow-up to my WS W6E edition, which begins after the jump...I think we were all well aware that it would not be easy to beat the Giants at home, even coming off of a huge win over St. Louis (who happened to beat San Diego yesterday). I believe that the Lions were well prepared for the Giants, but once again penalties, turnovers, and injuries made it impossible for us to win the game. In the beginning of the WS W6E, I talked about how the Lions were going to have to play a much more disciplined game against the Giants, than they did against the Rams, and that just plain did not happen. The Lions committed 11 penalties for 91 yards yesterday and they turned the ball over 3 times (5 fumbles, 2 lost, and 1 INT), compared to 2 penalties for 15 yards and 1 turnover (1 fumble lost) by the Giants. That is not the way to win football games.
Next I stated that the keys to winning the game offensively for the Lions were running the ball well and keeping Shaun Hill in an upright position. Drew Stanton led the Lion's rushing charge with 30 yards rushing on 3 carries...so clearly they did not run the ball well at all. However, the offensive line DID actually do a pretty decent job of not allowing sacks, as the Lion QB's were sacked just twice in the game (unfortunately, Shaun Hill broke his forearm on one of those). Without a running game, the Lions were forced into a one dimensional offense...not to mention they were playing from behind for most of the game. Even without a running game, I think the Lions did an admirable job passing the ball, as they passed for a net of 302 yards and 2 TDs. If only we had run the ball better, not turned the ball over, and not shot ourselves in the foot with stupid penalties, then maybe we would have won the game. I named Nate Burleson as the key player for the Lions on offense this week, and early on it was looking like that might turn out to be the case, but the fumble by Burleson really hurt the Lions. Calvin Johnson ended up playing too, and he was the best player on the field for the Lions (as usual), but I still contend that Burleson WAS the key player in the outcome of the game offensively for Detroit. His TD forced the Giants to pay more attention to him, and it was looking like CJ would run wild after that...but then he dropped the ball on that crucial 3rd down play where the Lions were driving and in control, thereby dropping our chances to win in my opinion.
Later I said that "The only way that we can beat the Giants is if we can either 1) Stop them from passing the ball, or 2) Stop them from running the ball. We are not going to stop both". I talked about the idea that I felt we could stop the run easier than we would stop the Giants from passing, stating that I figured the Giants would pass for at least 247.8 yards and rush for at least 130.2 yards. I was a bit backward on which facet of the Giant's offense we would stop though, as the Lions held the Giants to under 200 yards passing (167 net) but also allowed them to rush for 167 net yards. Ahmad Bradshaw racked up 133 yards on the ground, while Brandon Jacobs contributed 35 yards and 2 TDs rushing. I was correct when I said that Jacobs would not have a huge game against us, but he was certainly effective in the red zone, and also correct in saying that Bradshaw would try to run up the middle and off tackle (he had a 45 yard run off of the right tackle with 5 minutes left in the game, torching Ciurciu and Palmer to seal the game for the Giants). I did say this "IF we can stop the Giants from running the ball, AND we can hold them to less than 100 yards rushing, with no rushing TDs, WHILE we ALSO hold them to less than 300 yards passing, THEN we have a shot a beating them this week". We held them to under 300 yards passing, and we actually made them beat us on the ground. Unfortunately, they were ready and able to do so. Even though they ran for over 100 yards, we STILL DID have a shot at winning that game and if one or two things would have gone the other way, we would have won that game.
I named Chris Houston as the key to a Lion victory defensively this week. Well guess what folks...it was Alphonso Smith, and NOT Chris Houston, who absolutely shut down Hakeem Nicks yesterday, holding him to 3 catches for 8 yards. Unfortunately, Jonathon Wade was the major problem in our secondary, and while Chris Houston did a decent job, he did not help matters much either. While Chris Houston did manage to keep his man (Steve Smith at times and Mario Manningham at other times) out of the end zone, Steve Smith still was able to grab 6 passes for 70 yards, including a 20 yard gain at one point (not to mention the penalties). The long gains by Steve Smith came against Jonathon Wade however, when the Giants were in their 3 wide, single back set. Wade also allowed both of the passing TDs against the Lions yesterday...one to Mario Manningham (who had 4 catches for 51 yards and a TD as the 3rd WR) and one to Travis Beckham, both out of the slot. Was I wrong in saying that Houston would be the key to a Lion victory on defense yesterday? If Wade had done his damn job, Houston most certainly would have been key in my opinion, but in all fairness Alphonso Smith was the key player on our defense yesterday. The key to our loss (defensively) was most definitely Jonathon Wade in my opinion.
All in all, I can not say that the Lions are much worse than the Giants right now. They stayed with them the whole game, and if not for the key turnovers and penalties, and if not for a crappy nickle back on defense, we easily could have been in OT at the very least, if not coming away with a HUGE win. And I can say all of that, knowing that HALF of the game was played by our normal 3rd string QB!! I am really looking forward to having Matthew Stafford back after the bye week, but I am still confident that Stanton could get the job done if need be. Shaun Hill will probably be out 4-6 weeks with the broken arm, so unless the Lions sign another QB for depth, we may very well find out if Stanton has it in him if Stafford gets hurt again. I hope that doesn't happen...but I am much more confident that Stanton CAN play after watching the game yesterday, and much less concerned that Shaun Hill will not be available if Stafford can't go. We have a much needed week of rest to reflect, and we will see the Lions in week 8 when they go against the Redskins. I am not giving up on the Lions...and I still think they can come away with 7-9 wins THIS season. Until next week Lion's fans, this has been KDawg with the SNS W5E followup. GO LIONS!