The Fat Man with the Skinny - "It Burns..." (week 9, part 2)

Despite fighting hard in every game this year, the Lions were a home underdog to a hyped up Super Bowl contender. And they fought hard this game too; they fought so hard they nearly exposed the Jets for frauds. Well, at least the media would call them frauds. We would just say the better team won the day.

But, well, the better team didn't win the day. Riddled with injuries, plagued both by bad calls and prone to abject stupidity at times, the Detroit Lions were upset this last Sunday in a miracle come-from-behind victory by Mark Sanchez.

Nate Burleson had a career game today, and seemed about as clutch as could be. It seemed he was always open when he needed to be, and good things seemed to happen constantly for our offense when Staff gave him looks. That said, my game ball goes to Houston. He literally shut down Jericho Cotchery up until the point he was hurt in the third quarter, and Cotchery only managed to accomplish anything after the injury occured. The defense seriously took a hit after that injury, and it was palpable. I see good things for Houston in his future with the Lions. He will be regarded as a premiere CB around the league soon, but will likely be overshadowed in glory because the Smith gets the picks.

Before I get to the second part of my pre-game analysis (here), let me just address something.

Suh attempted a PAT. If you hadn't seen the game, and this was the first thing you've heard about the game, you'd likely be thinking to yourself "lol, WHAT?!" I know a lot of us were thinking that when it was happening, to be honest. He missed the kick. I know, some of you are saying "obviously." We lost by one point, so clearly that PAT was what would have done it.

But it didn't really work out that way. Had we been up 21-17, they wouldn't have been trying for the FG, but rather the TD. Would we have won? Possibly, who knows. But obviously the Jets aren't going to just go "oh well, he made it, let's just make this a close one and lose by one now."

The coaches have caught a lot of flack about this call, but let's be honest; it was f---ing genius. If he makes that kick, the crowd goes nuts, and stays nuts for the rest of the game, and Sanchez pisses his pants on the next drive. We win, and Suh becomes even more of a lock for the pro bowl, and DROY, and possible DPOY, et cetera.

And really, he was only what? Maybe a millionth of an inch in terms of English on the ball, where he kicks that thing in off the uprights, instead of out? And he came in cold for it too. That's freaking amazing, to be honest. Check out the video here. The kid played soccer, he used to kick FGs for his HS team, his family plays soccer professionally, and he's a DT so he's bound to have good motor skills in his legs. He's honestly probably the best FG kicker we have that isn't Hanson, and Schwartz said so himself. He does it in practice, it's not as much of a gimmick as it seems. Placekick holding is one of the most underrated jobs in football, and no one on the team does it better than Harris. On top of that, Harris (as evidenced by his terrible kickoff the next play) is awful when the ball is on the ground. He's a punter for good reason.

No, Suh didn't kick anything else that game, Hanson was in for all the rest of the placekicks (except for kickoffs), and Harris was doing kickoffs. But I say, good job Suh. Good job Schwartz for letting him try. And 100% of the time, in that situation, I'd do the same damn thing myself. Now that I've gotten that off my chest. Anyone who says "We lost by one, Suh missed the extra point, that cost us the game," doesn't understand that's not how football works.

#1 - Third and Fourth Downs

Neither team attempted or made any fourth downs.

By half-time, the Jets were sporting a 17% completion rate on third downs (by only converting once out of 6 times), while Detroit had nailed 38% in a very respectable first half performance. However, the story of the entire game is very telling as in the third quarter, NYJ went 2/3 and Detroit went 0/2. Following that, Detroit went 2/5 versus NYJ's 2/4. It slipped away from us, and we lost.

Edge - Jets (pre-game: Lions)

#2 - Turnovers, Sacks, Tackles for Loss

I said this all week. The fact that NYJ has a +7 turnover differential versus Detroit's +1 is not a relevent statistic. It doesn't matter. The relevent statistic is always in comparing teams where one team is in the black and one is in the red, or when comparing takeaways. Detroit takes the ball away more often than NYJ does, on average, and it showed here. Detroit turned the ball over zero times, while the Jets did twice. On top of that, Detroit only fumbled the ball once (in a fluke), while our defense forced three. A great showing.

The turnover battle is quickly lost, however, when we manage to do so badly (in comparison) on sacks and TFLs. They held us to 2 quarterback hits, 4 tackles for loss, and only 1 sack. Meanwhile, they themselves accomplished 2 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 3 QHs. Worse yet, they accomplished this over the course of the game rather than in a late game push. This is easily acredited to their o-line's incredible performance. Our defensive line didn't play badly (in fact, it played fairly well), nor did our offensive line show itself as extremely porous. The mismatch in o-lines just happened to win out for them, and I credit the Jet's lucky win entirely to the stellar play of their offensive line.

Edge - Jets (pre-game: Lions)

#3 - Red Zone, Goal-to-Go

In the red zone, we managed to keep them from converting three of their four attempts at touchdowns. Notably, their one attempt in the first half was stymied, and their only successful redzone drive was during the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, their last redzone visit came during overtime, and the third down field goal attempt would have only been met by another field goal attempt, so I can't give any credit to Detroit for the last redzone stop. New York failed utterly at preventing our redzone drives, seeming at times to be helping us get there, and all three of them resulted in touchdowns.

The aforementioned red zone drive that did result in a touchdown was a 1st-and-goal attempt, but it was their only 1st-and-goal attempt of the day. The other three times, we managed to prevent them from getting a first down in the red zone. We are quickly becoming one of the best red zone teams in the league. Indeed, we are the best in the league percentage-wise, with 70.83% of redzone drives converted into touchdowns all year.

Edge - Lions (pre-game: Lions)

#4 - Talent

Quarterback -

One of the league's top headlines during this week's games was the matchup between 2009 1st rounders Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Other than two great throws to Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes during the second quarter, Sanchez had a fairly pedestrian game in all but the last few minutes of the game, essentially being a third down choke artist and killing drives left and right. Throwing no interceptions, Stafford had a better performance than last game, which says a lot considering how much rust he seemed to show last game against a much worse defense. He seemed to find the receivers necessary to make any given play, he took chances, and he looked like a force out there. A lot should be said about Mark Sanchez and his fourth quarter comeback, but a lot more should be said about Stafford's play in the first three quarters that led the Jets to need Sanchez.

Edge - Lions (pre-game: Lions)

Running -

Our running game was by no means irrelevent; truly, we did a lot better against one of the league's best rushing defenses than many would have thought. And their only running TD was from a QB sneak at the goal-line. That speaks wonders. However, they (predictably) outrushed us, and managed to average a yard more in the process. A lot can be said about the fact that their longest run was for 12 yards. We are improving on run defense surely, but our running game is still a bit spotty.

Edge - Jets (pre-game: Jets)

Receiving -

Just like last game, they looked better on paper. Homerist Jets fans and columnists will point out how the game wasn't close at all, and how we were lucky to compete, because of the stats. But the stats are like cake and spoons. They are a lie. We targeted two more guys than they did. We spread the ball around, and our guys got open when they needed to be. Our long receptions to any given player are fairly representative of the averages of any given Lion. The Jets padded their averages majorly in a couple huge plays, and their averages are still wholly incongruent with their longest reception. And damn if Burleson didn't step up and bring home 8 out of the 9 times he was targetted. They can talk about Revis Island all they want, I've said it before and I'll say it again: we have too many targets for any defense in the league to shut our passing game down, with Stafford at the helm.

Edge - Lions (pre-game: Lions)

Offensive Line -

Their o-line won them the game. I said it earlier in this post and I've shouted it all over the internet. For all the hype about Sanchez's fourth quarter comeback, or Revis Island, or any shenanigans, if the Jets had an o-line comparable to a run of the mill offensive line, the Lions would have won this game soundly. It would have been a blowout of epic proportions. Thankfully, our offensive line didn't perform admirably, but they performed about as well as they're expected to.

Edge - Jets (pre-game: Jets)

Defensive Line -

One of the best defensive lines couldn't manage to come through against one of the best offensive lines. I can't fault our front four for that. Despite our defense being beaten on #2, our defensive line held their own, putting up 5 more tackles, making a sack, and forcing a fumble (compared to NYJ's front three).

Edge - Lions (pre-game: Lions)

Linebackers -

Anyone with doubts about DeAndre Levy should put them to rest after this game. He not only led the Lions in tackles last sunday, but he led all tacklers. Unfortunately, he recorded zero stats whatsoever otherwise (not that he needs to). The Lions LBs managed to record 20 tackles (including 2 for a loss) and deflected one pass, but the Jet's managed to record 26 tackles (4 for a loss), a sack, and a quarterback hurry. Predictably, the 3-4 LBs edged out the 4-3 LBs, but I was happy with the play of our linebackers overall. I mean, if you don't count Peterson being a bonehead.

Edge - Jets (pre-game: Jets)

Defensive Backs -

If Houston hadn't gotten dinged up, we might be having a different conversation now. Hell, we may have won, who knows? But, Houston did get hurt out there, and it had reprecussions not only relevent to this discussion, but to the game in general. This was a close fought game for the secondaries. Despite our secondary getting burned a couple times, we recorded 22 tackles, 5 pass deflections, an interception, and a forced fumble (which we recovered). The Jets had similar stats, minus a tackle and a pass deflection, and they traded an int and a PD for a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. Everyone raise your hand if you would rather intercept, and force a fumble, than tackle a runner for a loss. Everyone's hands up? Alright, cool.

Don't give me that "Revis Island" garbage. All Revis did all day was make it easier for Detroit's passing game to expose the Jet's defense as a fraud. And I would like to point out that Antonio Cromartie did everything I said he would against Burleson; which is to say, not much. Actually, I kind of gave Cromartie the unwarranted benefit of the doubt and was proven wrong by giving him that much credit.

Edge - Lions (pre-game: Jets)

Conclusion - 5/10 (pre-game: 6/10) We beat the Jets on some points I didn't think we would, but the Jets won on some key points that we should have had a handle on. In the end, we lost in a manner that was both crushing and a reason for hope -- we made a potential Super Bowl contender have to get lucky to beat us. Here's a shout-out to Stafford, Avril, Houston, and Hanson. Get well soon guys, you all laid your heart on the field last Sunday.

Pre-Game Prediction - "If we lose, NYJ has a 7 to 14 pt lead at the half, and wins by under 6 points with Detroit still trying hard at the very end. If we win, New York will have a narrow lead going into the half (or a tie), and Detroit will win by more than a possession. No victory formation, Sanchez is on the field at the end, but doesn't have the time." If we hadn't choked in the last few minutes, I would have been right. Darn it all.

Fun Fact - Suh is the g-- d--- man.

Thanks for reading all, make sure to check out my preview of next Sunday's game when it comes out later this week. Good luck, Buffalo Bills.

Go Lions!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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