The Detroit Lions pulled off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles thanks to some standout performances on Sunday. It wasn’t all good, however, as the Lions blew another double-digit lead. Nevertheless, the Lions fought back and are now 2-3 on the year. Here’s a look at five winners and three losers from Detroit’s 24-23 win over the Eagles.
We’ve already talked plenty about Slay’s game, but it isn’t enough. Considering how little help he’s getting from the other cornerbacks on the team, Slay’s performance is even better than you may think. He may have missed a few tackles early in the game, but he had three huge plays in the final seven minutes of the game. First, he broke up a third-down pass that forced a long field goal attempt for the Eagles. During the next drive, he forced a fumble that set up the Lions’ game-winning kick. Then on the final drive of the game, he picked off Carson Wentz to put the nail in the coffin.
Tate was in the spotlight all week after being invisible for the first four games of the season. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter believed Tate was up for big things this week, and while that didn’t exactly turn out to be true, Tate did make an impact when it mattered most. His 27-yard grab on third down late in the fourth quarter put the Lions well within field goal range to finally take the lead for good.
Jim Bob Cooter
I know Kent Platte had Cooter landing on the stock down list, but I saw things a little differently. Cooter came out with an ingenious gameplan against the Eagles. One of the biggest issues with the Lions offense through four weeks was the inability of any tight ends to block both in the passing and running games. Without Eric Ebron, Cooter had to do something and came out using six offensive linemen for much of the first half. Additionally, Cooter tried all he could to get Tate more involved in the offense, which worked out originally after Tate rushed for 11 yards from the backfield.
Obviously, Cooter had some issues with in-game adjustments once the Eagles caught wind of these curveballs, but considering this is one of the best defenses in the league, he deserves a lot of credit, too. After all, the early gameplan was almost enough to win the game anyway.
The Eagles hadn’t allowed a passing touchdown all year. Matthew Stafford managed to have three before the two teams broke for halftime. Stafford may not have had to do much on Sunday, as his 25 passing attempts were the fewest of his career in games he started and finished. His fumble was very costly, but when the game was on the line, he floated a beautiful pass to Tate to set up the game-winning score.
Without Eric Ebron, the Lions needed someone to attack the middle of the field, specifically on third down. Boldin only had four catches for 48 yards, but three of those catches earned first downs, two of them on third down.
Roberts’ honeymoon for his punt-return touchdown against the Bears lasted all but one half. Roberts only returned two kickoffs on the day, but failed to take either of them to even the Lions’ own 20-yard line. The kickoff return is basically a dead art at this point, but Roberts has really only hurt the team with his return duties. When Dwayne Washington is healthy, that job should probably be his.
Pete Morelli’s officiating crew
Morelli’s crew has grown infamous among Lions fans for notoriously picking up a pass interference flag in Detroit’s last playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. It was incredibly odd because the officials announced the penalty before picking it up. The exact same thing happened on two occasions again on Sunday, including an illegal man downfield penalty called on the defense (no such penalty exists). The game was marred by questionable calls, clock errors and general incompetence. When two checkmarked Twitter users are calling you out, you know you did a bad job:
I meant to tell the folks in Philly and Detroit to enjoy Pete Morelli and his crew. They're the worst in the league. https://t.co/GPz3fmrCNr— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) October 9, 2016
The officiating in Detroit is REALLY bad. https://t.co/c5LyBmXYsJ— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) October 9, 2016
I hate to keep burying the Lions’ linebackers, but it needs to be said. On several third downs, the linebackers did a good job of keeping the offense in front of them, but would miss a few tackles and allow enough yards after the catch to move the sticks.
Surprisingly, the Lions weren’t destroyed by tight ends; Zach Ertz only had three catches for 37 yards in his return. However, the tackling issues were rampant and the run defense was bad. Hurry back, DeAndre Levy.