The Detroit Lions defeated the St. Louis Rams 27-23 to open the season.
Prior to the game, we looked at the potential keys to victory. Let’s go back and see how the Lions did in those areas, grading each.
Key - Pressure Bradford
Result – A-
Bradford finished with 198 yards on 17-of-25 passing for a touchdown and no interceptions. The Lions were able to get decent pressure on the third-year passer, sacking him three times and hurrying him on seven other occasions.
The Lions ability to force Bradford to throw quickly was key in the defense’s ability to avoid big plays against as well as surrender only 16 points.
Key - Neutralize the pass rush
Result – B+
The Rams pass rush did not have a significant impact on the game, although they were not completely shutout.
Chris Long did register a quarterback hit but did not record a sack or a tackle. Robert Quinn managed three tackles and a sack as well as two quarterback hits.
In a perfect world, the Lions would have been able to reduce the production of the two edge rushers from the Rams but considering Stafford attempted 48 passes, those results aren’t too bad.
Key - Effectively use the short passing game
Result – B
The Lions would have received a higher grade here if not for the interceptions.
Matthew Stafford and Co. did a very good job of taking advantage of the short-passing game but also had three interceptions in that area.
Calvin Johnson continued to draw several defenders on nearly every play, opening up short-to-medium range passes. As a result, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler received the highest amount of targets in the game (10 and eight respectively).
Key - Prevent big gains against on the ground
Result – A+
The Lions were successful in limiting Steven Jackson’s effectiveness, holding him to only 53 yards. Even more impressive was the fact that the defensive unit – often dropping the safety close to the line of scrimmage – didn’t give up a run longer than 11 yards.
The fact that the Lions were able to keep the Rams running game in check may be the single largest reason for victory.