I have no idea how the Lions pulled off this win.
Well, I kinda do. But, If you would've asked me with 5 minutes left in the game who would win, I would've placed my next paycheck on L.A.
Despite an ugly game containing eight Lions penalties for 71 yds, two missed kicks and two interceptions from Matthew Stafford, the Lions remain undefeated with a 13-10 win.
Matthew Stafford summed up the sloppy performance from both teams as "September Football". He claims that it's a term used often by Head Coach Matt Patricia. It basically means that everyone kind of sucks in the month of September. Not meaning that the players aren't talented, but there's only so much rust that can be shaken off in the pre-season. Especially when you don't play your starters in game situations. The biggest eye sore was the special teams units. My. Goodness.
Although I agree with most coaches not putting their franchise quarterbacks out in meaningless games to avoid injury, the special teams units need to be out every single game. We saw just about every punt and punt return with dirty laundry out on the field. Patricia even said after the game, that special teams is something that you just can't replicate in practice. It's game time reps that are needed for these units to actually get some work in. And in the game of inches that the NFL is, starting personnel should be in majority of pre-season special teams.
Outside of special teams, I think there is a lot of good that can be taken from this performance. Most notably, the play calling by Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell.
AGGRESSIVE PLAY CALLING:
I thought Bevell was brilliant this game. Not once in the entire game did I question the reasoning behind the plays called on offense. The two biggest tests for this offense were lined up across from them at both ends: Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Oh, and starting Left Tackle, Taylor Decker was ruled out right before game time. In comes Tyrell Crosby.
The first day of training camp, there was some apprehension on who would step up on the offensive line. Sure the unit looked decent, but there was one spot not sealed up. Joe Dahl had the highest pass blocking rating of any lineman last week. But another void was left today after Decker was ruled out, and despite a less than stellar first series, he stepped up big time. I'll know more after I watch the tape later, but the biggest thing for Crosby was to not stick out like a sore thumb and get blown up every play. Crosby when asked about his performance, said “I thought we did well. There’s always stuff we can improve on, you can’t get complacent. You watch the film, learn from it and just improve next week.” He's right, they did well but rushed for under 100 yds collectively. Definitely room for improvement. Their greatest accomplishment was keeping the stars at bay, setting the stage for another Stafford come from behind win.
Matthew Stafford struggled at times, breaking even with two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day. He took some chances downfield that were picked off in key situations, but also redeemed himself with two spectacular throws on the game winning drive. One of which was a 31 yd dagger to Kenny Golladay. Despite the risk being detrimental at times, you have to love the aggressive nature of both Stafford and Bevell.
Darius Slay came up with a big interception late in the game, but the Chargers had all three timeouts to stop Detroit from taking a knee and burning the clock. After being stuffed on two run plays early in the drive, the obvious next step was to run again, and force L.A. to burn that final timeout. Instead, Bevell drew up a 7 yd out route to Tight-End Jesse James, gaining the first down, and sealing the win.
If James drops that pass, future Hall of Fame Quarterback, Phillip Rivers, has just over a minute to lead the Chargers back into field goal range and send the Lions into their second straight overtime. Instead, Bevell took a shot.
From the look of this game, that will be the course of action for the Lions all season.
They're going to keep taking shots.
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