A win is a win is a win.
True, but a just-barely win over a weak opponent at home on a weekend in
which Detroit should have all the momentum in the world isn't all that
Don't be fooled into thinking the 1-5 Lions are out of the woods quite yet.
And don't go betting the farm on the Lions turning things around and making the playoffs.
Getting better? Definitely. A team you can count on? Heck no.
When your running back gains 127 yards, your top receiver has 161 and the QB completes two-thirds of his passes and you only score 17 points, something is amiss.
Yes, Buffalo's defense is pretty good. But Detroit again came in with a fully-loaded gun with which to shoot itself in the foot.
Fortunately, this time they actually had unused ammo left at the end of the
day, coming up a round or two short of finishing off the job of giving away
yet another winnable game.
Jones' pair of false starts, a pair of gaffes by Dan Campbell and a patchwork
line that blocked fairly well in the run game but gave up three
sacks and consistent pressure on Jon Kitna are things that still need to be addressed.
Again, improving. But did anyone watching the game not immediately start
thinking of the Viking game when Buffalo scored to make a game that was
seemingly in hand into one that was far from over?
Good and great teams don't let the opposition back into games. They use the fourth quarter not to hang on for a close win, but to demonstrate to their opposition just who is the boss. That's the kind of mentality Rod Marinelli wants, but the Lions did just the opposite. The defense started playing a more loose zone (thankfully not a prevent defense).
When time expired, the Lions were technically the boss, but it was more like
the weasely kind that politely asks if you can work some overtime rather
than demanding it.
Thankfully, the defense actually showed up this time.
The Lions dominated the game physically, with its defensive line finally
getting the kind of pressure that it hadn't displayed since the first week of
the season, led James Hall's 3.5 sacks. Shaun Rogers added one and Corey Redding
was only credited with one-half sack, but was only a fraction of a
step behind Hall on several sacks.
If you take away their largest runs (52 for Jones; 21 for McGahee), Jones averaged just 2.8 yards a carry.
The Bills' line couldn't open up holes against the Detroit front line and the Lions linebackers filled nicely much of the time. When you have only three players with 5 or more tackles and nobody with more than eight, it's probably a good day on that side of the ball.
The constant in the Lions' defense playing well is pressure from the front
four and the play of Fernando Bryant. Both of those elements were in place
this week and against Seattle, arguably the only two times the Lions bothered to bring its defense with them to the game.
Bryant led the Lions with eight tackles, including a huge hit on McGahee the broke up a pass and left McGahee on the ground for a few minutes. And it was Bryant who had to encourage Terrence Holt to get up and run after his interception for what turned into a 7-yard return.
When (or if) the Lions get Alex Lewis and Teddy Lehman back, the defense has the potential to do this every week. But Bryant is a key. The Bills picked on Jamar Fletcher when he was in as a nickel back. Being forced to use Fletcher out wide -- as evidences in the past few weeks -- is a disaster. But if his mistakes are limited to the middle of the field, they can be more easily contained. The best-case scenario is Keith Smith or Stanley Wilson steps up and takes Fletcher's job. Smith had a great play on Sunday, batting a long pass away from Roscoe Parrish to force a Buffalo punt.
I WANT MY TV: At some point, you have to feel sorry for Sam Rosen. The guy seems to draw the short straw almost every week for years now, being forced by FOX to broadcast Detroit Lions games.
You'd think it would qualify as some kind of workplace violence. At least he got a week off this Sunday, as the game was on CBS instead of FOX. And then the Lions go and finally play relatively well and win a game.
-- Wouldn't it be great to see some media outlets (ESPN, anyone?) show a little responsibility and refuse to play right into Terrell Owens' ego by
showing him on TV more than reruns of Seinfeld?
-- This just in: Kalimba Edwards is next to worthless. If Mike Williams isn't playing, then why is this guy?
-- LeVar Woods was absolutely everywhere on special teams, getting three tackles.
-- Speaking of special teams, Jon McGraw made a very heady play that won't show up in the stats but was big. When Buffalo had gotten back within a score and forced the Lions to punt, McGraw flew downfield on coverage, but instead of going after returner Jim Leonhard, McGraw played contain, forcing Leonhard to go up the middle instead of wide and going right into Wood's waiting arms.