Once the season starts and the losses start to pile up, I'm not exactly the most optimistic person in the world, especially when it comes to the Lions' defense. Although the D-line has looked solid this year, the secondary has driven me crazy each and every week of the season, including on Sunday against the Vikings. I was beyond angry with the way the secondary and the defense as a whole played, but looking back, there is actually some reason to be positive.
Although I may be grasping for straws a bit, level with me for a second. On Sunday, the Lions gave up 201 yards through the air and 185 yards on the ground. Factoring in a couple of sacks, the Lions allowed 368 yards to the Vikings. Sadly, that is the best performance yardage-wise all season, as Detroit gave 463 yards to Chicago and 444 to Philadelphia.
While considering 368 yards allowed as an improvement isn't anything to write home about, my point about trying to stay positive is this: If you take two plays where the defense (or more specifically C.C. Brown) had a massive breakdown out of the equation, the points scored by Minnesota and the yardage total don't look nearly as bad.
The first play came right after Stefan Logan's muffed punt gave the Vikings great field position. Percy Harvin had a diving touchdown catch from 24 yards out to tie the game up at 7. He was wide open, and while it was only from 24 yards out and a touchdown for the Vikings may have been inevitable on that drive no matter what, the blame falls squarely on C.C. Brown.
CC Brown on Favre TD pass 2 Harvin "That was completely on me. The corner had nothing 2 do with it, that was on me" Said he bit on pump 2 TE
Mistakes happen, but Brown again made a bonehead play on Adrian Peterson's 80-yard touchdown run. He lost contain by cutting inside, allowing Peterson to break to the outside and outrun everybody for the long score. While Peterson had been playing well even before his big run, the Lions were doing a solid job of containing him. Brown's mistake to cut inside erased that, however, and it allowed the Vikings to pull away from the Lions.
While Detroit's defense had a lot of problems outside of those two specific plays, my general point is that for most of the game, the D wasn't that bad. It wasn't good, but if you take those two mistakes by C.C. Brown out of the equation, Sunday's game could have had a much different result. It's impossible to say what exactly would have happened, but at the very least, taking an 80-yard run off the board would have made things much more interesting in the fourth quarter.
I will admit that I may be reaching for positivity, but I'm just trying to find some silver lining from the D's performance on Sunday. Perhaps it could come in the form of the three turnovers the defense forced, but I keep going back to their overall performance minus the two mistakes by Brown.
Because Brown is part of the defense, their performance still was pretty mediocre as a collective unit, but again, outside of those two specific plays, the defense wasn't as bad as it seemed while watching the game. The fact of the matter is that the Lions were still in it because of those three turnovers, and if Brown didn't read the TD pass wrong or lose contain on Peterson, Detroit would have had a chance to at least make things interesting in the fourth quarter rather than have things fizzle out the way they did.
I guess I have two main points from this: 1) I now understand why C.C. Brown was nicknamed "Can't Cover" in New York; and 2) the Lions' bend but don't break style of defense was effective most of the time on Sunday. It's not a lot of progress and you can't put the blame all on one guy, but some progress is better than none at all.