The Good, the bad, the ugly: Lions and Giants

A deeper look at some key items from the Lions 35-14 win on Monday Night Football

The Detroit Lions opened the 2014 regular season with a blowout win on primetime television against the New York Giants. Here’s a look at the good, bad and ugly from Monday night.

The Good – Matthew Stafford

It’s not that Stafford should be singled out above some of the stellar performances in the victory. Calvin Johnson had a monster game with 164 yards and two touchdowns, DeAndre Levy might have been the best player on the field with 10 tackles – two for loss -, an interception as well as a defended pass and Ndamukong Suh, despite a lackluster stat line, really impacted the game.

Still, Stafford gets the spotlight simply because he is the most important individual for the team’s success and – at least for tonight – he showed he can be the franchise signal caller he needs to be for this team to reach its goals.

Stafford completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 346 yards, two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 125.3. He made great decisions, looked comfortable in the new offense and perfectly balanced aggressive downfield passes with smart, underneath completions. He took what the defense gave him and didn’t force plays.

If this is the type of play we can expect out of the 26-year-old signal caller, the Lions should have an outstanding season.

The Bad – First Half Penalties

It’s not always easy to find negatives in a 35-14 victory where the offense didn’t turn the ball over and the defense generated two interceptions – and it may seem like nitpicking – but 6 penalties for 57 yards in a single half of football is a recipe for disaster.

To their credit, the Lions only had two penalties in the second half but – against a better opponent – might not have had the chance to correct their mistakes.

The team was rolling with a 14-0 lead and had the Giants on the ropes when, at the end of the first quarter after forcing New York to punt, the Lions breathed life into their opponent with a roughing-the-kicker penalty. That extended the eventual touchdown drive which was aided by a pass interference call in the end zone by Darius Slay. It took Eli Manning and the New York offense four tries but they ended up cutting the Lions lead in half and punching the ball into the end zone.

The Ugly – Injuries in the Defensive Backfield

The Lions entered the season with a perceived weakness in the defensive secondary. Whether or not that was the case, things got worse as Bill Bentley had to leave the game with a knee injury that could be serious.

Nevin Lawson entered the game in Bentley’s place and – despite making some good plays – had some struggles. The Giants failed to exploit Lawson but the rookie cornerback was overmatched at times and allowed his receiver behind him too often.

If Bentley is out for a significant amount of time, the Lions will have some decisions to make at cornerback.

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