Lions All-22: Calvin Johnson feasts on Bears’ secondary

Photo Credit: Andrew Weber/USA Today Sports

Photo Credit: Andrew Weber/USA Today Sports

The ice cold Lions offense finally broke out of a season-long slump, scoring four touchdowns in a satisfying 34-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving.

There was trouble early. Chicago stormed out to a 14-3 lead after a strip-sack of Matthew Stafford set-up the Bears at the Lions’ five-yard line.

But the team stayed calm and responded with a confidence-boosting touchdown drive of their own, culminating with a beautifully thrown pass from Stafford to Calvin Johnson. It halted Detroit’s touchdown drought at 25 possessions, spanning three games. Here’s the play that broke the proverbial ice. Continue reading

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Lions All-22: Offense out of sync, missed opportunities abound vs. Patriots

Credit-NFL Game Rewind

Credit-NFL Game Rewind

A shortened version of this article was published by the Detroit Free Press.

The Lions’ offense failed to score a touchdown for the second consecutive contest (spanning 22 possessions) in their 34-9 drubbing at the hands of the white-hot Patriots on Sunday. The offensive performance has everyone wondering how a team that scored 24.7 points per game last season (13th in the NFL) could fall to 17.9 (28th). They were supposed to be better this year. Continue reading

All-22 Detroit-New England Preview: Pats defense struggles against tight ends

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports First-round pick Eric Ebron has missed the past two games with injury and has only 10 receptions.

Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron has a chance to punish the Patriots this week                       -Andrew Weber/USA TODAY

A shortened version of this article was published by the Detroit Free Press.

The Lions’ offensive struggles have been the center of attention, one week after scoring a season-low six points and failing to score a touchdown for the first time since 2009. The leaky offensive line has gifted opposing defenses 31 sacks, the run game is 30th in the NFL and short-yardage troubles plagued the team last week. With the loss to 9-1 Arizona, the Lions dropped to an astounding 0-15 on the road against teams that finished with winning records with Matthew Stafford under center.

Yet thanks to a top-rated defense along with a sprinkle of late game magic from the much-maligned offense, Detroit is the only team with a winning record in the bottom third in scoring, averaging a measly 18.8 points per game. Continue reading

Lions All-22: Short yardage woes hinder offense

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: Running back Theo Riddick #25 of the Detroit Lions runs with the football after a reception against strong safety Deone Bucannon #36 and middle linebacker Larry Foote #50 in the second quarter during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, AZ – NOVEMBER 16: Running back Theo Riddick #25 of the Detroit Lions runs with the football after a reception against strong safety Deone Bucannon #36 and middle linebacker Larry Foote #50 in the second quarter during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A shortened version of this article was published by the Detroit Free Press.

The Lions’ offensive struggles continued on Sunday against the NFL-leading Arizona Cardinals. The Lions were unable to consistently move the football and on the few occasions when they did, sacks and penalties stalled drives. Continue reading

All-22 Detroit-Arizona Preview: Cardinals’ defense thrives on pressure

ARI-SD Blitz T A-Gap

A shortened version of this article was published by the Detroit Free Press.

On Thursday morning, the Arizona Cardinals signed defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to a three-year contract extension that reportedly makes him one of the five highest-paid assistant coaches in the league. He is worth it.

Before the season, Arizona’s defense lost its two best linebackers: Karlos Dansby left for Cleveland via free agency, and Daryl Washington was suspended for the year. Veteran defensive end Darnell Dockett tore his ACL in training camp, and John Abraham, their best pass rusher, was placed on injured reserve after Week 1. Continue reading

Lions All-22: Suh, defensive line wreak havoc to stifle hot Miami offense

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 09: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions sacks Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter of the game at Ford Field on November 09 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Dolphins 20-16. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 09: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions sacks Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter of the game at Ford Field on November 09 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Dolphins 20-16. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

A shortened version of this story was published by the Detroit Free Press.

Much has been made of Matthew Stafford directing the offense to a comeback victory for the third consecutive contest. The Lions now have three straight come-from-behind wins in the final two minutes of a game, their latest thrilling victory a 20-16 win over Miami. Stafford has continually stepped up at the end of games and his playmakers have made plays to save the day.

But let’s not overlook why this team has even had the opportunity to win games late. The defense is the best in the league and continues to impress each week. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has done a phenomenal job of maximizing his players’ talents and has this defense flying to the football. On Sunday, the Dolphins were just another victim of a ferocious defensive effort led by Ndamukong Suh and his linemates. Continue reading