The Detroit Lions weren't doing much on offense or defense to start Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, leading to another frustrating halftime deficit. Even with the benefit of Calvin Johnson, it was a familiar narrative from a week before in Green Bay.
In the second half, however, the Lions showed more impressive resolve. They looked angry to be trailing a Cleveland team with plenty of offensive question marks. From their first defensive stop of the third quarter on, the Lions assumed dominance, marching down field, chewing up the clock and stonewalling the Browns en-route to an adjustment driven 31-17 victory. Those writing a premature obituary to Detroit's first place claim were proven wrong. The Hunt Report breaks down a statement making road win, and a nice reversal of fortune.
Joseph Fauria Is A Better Receiving Option Than Patrick Edwards. With three touchdowns on the day, Fauria enjoyed his coming out party against the Browns, who didn't have an answer for his imposing size. In Johnson and Kris Durham, Matthew Stafford has three impressive targets to throw the ball to, all of which can post up opposing defensive backs and linebackers and grab touchdowns like rebounds. While throwing to Fauria and seeing him haul in catch after catch, it became obvious that the Lions should stop wasting their time with Edwards in the red zone, who had another rough day with drops. Edwards looks small. Size rules in the NFL, and Fauria has it. Advantage him.
Detroit's Pass Rush Was Non-Existent, Leading To Their Defensive Problems. Give Cleveland's offensive line credit. Entering the game, they had given up the most sacks in football. Sunday, they managed to keep Brandon Weeden clean for the most part, giving him plenty of time to survey the field. With the exception of late sacks by Willie Young and Devin Taylor, he wasn't hassled much. It wasn't the line's fault that Weeden made horrendous decisions with the football late in the game. When Weeden was taking what the defense gave him, Cleveland looked dangerous. For whatever reason, Weeden panicked and made poor decisions.
The Lions Started Poor, But This Time, Finished Stronger Due To Their Minds. During their two losses in 2013, Detroit has had their problems at various points in the game and failed to make enough adjustments to rally. This time, that wasn't the case. With plenty of things not going their way, the team simply got mad at themselves and started to execute like a good team should. Considering last week's loss, that was a positive sign. In the second half, Detroit overcame a few silly penalties, an interception and numerous other elements which could have sunk them in a tough environment. Credit the coaches for keeping things positive and the players for pushing through.
Walt Coleman Is Still A Disaster, But This Time, It Helped Detroit. Remember Coleman? He was the infamous official who was making errors all over the place at Ford Field last Thanksgiving. Sunday, Cleveland fans certainly have a gripe with his latest body of work. First, there were two suspect pass interference calls on Joe Haden early, leading to a Detroit score. Then, there was a fourth quarter review in which Josh Gordon appeared to get jobbed out of a long pass completion. Many might even have complaints about a late roughing the passer call on Quentin Groves. Don't expect any sympathy from Lions' fans, who have been victimized by the same type of calls recently, and plenty by Coleman. In this instance, what goes around finally came around for Detroit.
Lions? Other than Fauria, "Mr. Touchdown" himself, Ndamukong Suh had a solid game in the middle of the defense, while DeAndre Levy played possessed at linebacker. Reggie Bush was back to being the perfect addition for the offense, and Kris Durham showed some fantastic strength today over the middle.
Lambs? Patrick Edwards gets the honor of being the solitary lamb today after failing to get the job done again, dropping more than his fair share of passes and looking weak over the middle. It might be time to start limiting his snaps.
Stat Of The Day: 29, the difference in total yardage between the Lions and Browns. Despite all of their problems, Cleveland actually managed to outgain Detroit 395-336 (plenty of that was aided by yardage in garbage time) but for a chunk of the day, the Browns looked like they could move the ball. Most other statistics, including rushing yards, were relatively even as well. Credit the Lions for forcing three and outs and grabbing two critical turnovers at opportune times. That was the difference in a "closer than the score would indicate" game.
What About The Five Things? Entering this regular season "battle of Lake Erie," we said it would be vital to watch Calvin Johnson. He played and made a few catches, but didn't look like himself thanks to the injury. Matthew Stafford's supporting cast came up big, with Durham, Fauria, Bush and even Brandon Pettigrew playing big roles in the passing game. The trench battle was won by Detroit, but credit Cleveland for a tough effort. The Browns' running game got some success early, but was shut off. Finally, Detroit was a perfect 3-3 in the red zone, getting big scores to secure the win.
Stalking The Next Prey: The Lions will try to make it a perfect 2-0 against the state of Ohio next week, when they get a visit from the Cincinnati Bengals. The game begins at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS.
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