OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 18: Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions sacks Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders in the final minute of their game at O.co Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Although they won, the Detroit Lions did not have a very good game defensively against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. In fact, this was one of the tougher games to find five plays the defense made that were worth including on this list. There were some big plays for sure, but in general, despite only scoring 27 points, the Raiders had their way with the Lions' defense. This is why the No. 5 play on the list was this:
No. 5 - Lions' "stop" of Raiders on fourth-and-one in first quarter
Admittedly, the Lions didn't do much on this play to cause a stop. The Raiders just didn't execute the play well. Denarius Moore was open in the end zone, but Carson Palmer's off-target throw went incomplete and resulted in Oakland turning the ball over on downs. The only reason I'm including it on the list is because it was a big stop. Plus, I suppose how you make a stop on fourth-and-one doesn't matter as long as a stop is in fact made.
Unlike the fourth-and-one stop, the Lions were the reason this particular short-yardage situation didn't go well for Oakland. The Lions quickly blew up any hole Bush might have had to run through, and he was brought down for a loss of three yards as a result.
No. 3 - Kyle Vanden Bosch's seven-yard sack of Carson Palmer in third quarter
The Raiders' second drive of the second half didn't go anywhere thanks in part to Vanden Bosch's seven-yard sack. It came on first down, and after Bush was stuffed for a loss of a yard on second down, the Raiders faced third-and-18. The Lions made a stop and got the ball back with good field position at their own 40.
On the Raiders' next drive, it looked like they were poised to score and score rather quickly. Palmer found Kevin Boss for a gain of 13 on the first play, and Louis Murphy picked up four yards on the next play. On second-and-six from the Detroit 44, Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey, who jetted down the field for a gain for 29 yards. At the very least, Oakland was going to be in Detroit's red zone, and had Durant missed the tackle, Heyward-Bey could have scored. Instead of one of those things happening, the Lions got the ball thanks to Durant's strip. Smith quickly fell on the ball, and the Lions took over and kept the score at 17-14.
No. 1 - Cliff Avril's three-yard sack of Carson Palmer in fourth quarter
With first-and-10 from the 50 on the final drive of the game, the Raiders needed just one decent gain to get in field goal range. When Palmer dropped back to pass and seemed to have all day to throw, it seemed like he was going to find somebody open downfield. As he got ready to throw, I held my breath. Thanks to Avril, I was able to quickly exhale. He came from behind and took down Palmer, who somehow didn't fumble on the play. The huge sack forced Oakland to burn its final timeout and backed the Raiders up three yards. After an incompletion and a gain of six yards, the Lions blocked Sebastian Janikowski's 65-yard field goal attempt to win the game.
What do you think was the Lions' top defensive play against the Raiders?
No. 5 - Lions' "stop" on fourth-and-one (2 votes)
No. 4 - DeAndre Levy/Willie Young's tackle for loss of three yards on third-and-one (0 votes)
No. 3 - Kyle Vanden Bosch's seven-yard sack (6 votes)
No. 2 - Justin Durant's forced fumble/Alphonso Smith's fumble recovery (84 votes)
No. 1 - Cliff Avril's three-yard sack (197 votes)
289 total votes