It wasn’t the outcome the raucous crowd at Ford Field had hoped for in the Detroit Lions’ home opener this season, but it’s a stark reminder of life in the NFL, and how much the old adage rings true: any given Sunday. At one moment, you’re spoiling the banner night moment of the Super Bowl defending champions, and the next, you’re catching a glimpse of the Seattle Seahawks celebrating in blue ski masks from the visitor’s locker room.
As we’ll do every week throughout the season for this Lions team, we’ll comb through some of the advanced data courtesy of Pro Football Focus that can help us better understand the football the Lions have played thus far—and what to look forward to in the coming weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the Lions by the numbers after their overtime loss to the Seahawks in their Week 2 matchup.
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42 yards after contact
From a glance at the stats, the Lions’ run defense was stout for the second week in a row. Detroit held Seattle’s running backs to just 62 rushing yards on 22 carries for 2.8 yards per carry. Kenneth Walker, the Seahawks lead back, ran for 43 yards on 17 attempts, a 2.5 yards per carry average.
The Lions had him dead to rights in the backfield all day long, but six missed tackles in run defense, and an inability to get Walker down after making contact could have put the Seahawks into even longer down-and-distance situations. Again, Walker had 43 rushing yards in the game, but according to PFF, he had 42 rushing yards after contact, so the Lions defense let Walker’s physical running style prevent them from putting the Seahawks into more disadvantageous situations on passing downs.
3.11 average time to throw on all drop backs
Detroit’s pass rush didn’t take advantage of a shorthanded Seattle offensive line like some might have anticipated. Down both of their starting offensive tackles—Abe Lucas and Charles Cross—the Seahawks gave Geno Smith plenty of time to throw the football. Smith’s 3.11 seconds of average time to throw on all drop backs was the fourth-most time of all starting quarterbacks in Week 2, and it certainly showed up in the box score—his 328 passing yards on Sunday against the Lions is now tied for the fourth-most in a game of his career.
20.0% defensive stop rate
Something positive to take away from Detroit’s run defense was the play of third-year linebacker, Derrick Barnes. From the jump, Barnes was flying to the football and finishing his tackles. Not only did he have a clean box score with zero missed tackles, Barnes led the Lions in run defense with a 20.0 percent defensive stop rate, PFF’s measure of, “The percentage of a player’s run defense snaps where he was responsible for a stop—tackles that constitute a ‘failure’ for the offense.” Of any NFL linebacker with at least 15 run defense snaps, Barnes was tied for first in defensive stop rate and second in average depth of tackle (0.3 yards) behind teammate Alex Anzalone (0.0 yards).
100.0% missed tackle rate
It was a good thing the linebackers were cleaning up the run game because Detroit’s defensive interior couldn’t bring down Seattle’s running backs. Both Alim McNeill and Benito Jones posted 100.0 percent missed tackle rates, each failing to record a single tackle in the box score—or a quarterback pressure, for that matter—against the Seahawks. The two combined for three of the team’s 12 missed tackles.
After benching Isaiah Buggs for the first two weeks of the season, this might have been the kind of performance from Detroit’s defensive line that opens the door for Buggs to return to the gameday lineup.
8.1% big-time throw rate
Have a game, Jared Goff.
The pick-six certainly stung, especially since it happened in the same half as that fumble from David Montgomery. It’s true those two turnovers turned the tide of this game, but Goff didn’t flinch from the moment after that interception. On the very next drive, he led the Lions offense down the field for a touchdown on a 10-play, 75-yard drive to put Detroit within one score of tying or winning the game. There’s much to be said about the Lions’ lack of urgency or aggressiveness in going for the end zone on that final drive to take the game out of Geno Smith’s hands, but Goff made a bunch of big-time throws. In Week 2, Goff was second among quarterbacks in big-time throw rate (8.1 percent), PFF’s measure of, “Passes with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.”
To put that into context, Goff has posted a BTT% higher than 8.1 percent in just one other game in his Lions tenure—Week 8 of 2022 against the Miami Dolphins (10.0 percent)—and has a career BTT% of 3.6 percent.
7.0 yards after catch per reception, 3 missed tackles forced
Speaking of having a standout performance on the offensive side of the ball, rookie Sam LaPorta’s encore against the Seahawks topped his debut as a pass-catcher in a big way. On that aforementioned drive by Goff after the pick-six, LaPorta made a couple of clutch grabs, including a contested catch on third-and-12 to keep the drive alive. In Week 2, LaPorta finished third among tight ends with at least six targets in yards after catch per reception (7.0) and tied for first in missed tackles forced (3).