Lions report card: D's for offensive line, receivers

Defense scores Lions' only touchdown

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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Matthew Stafford started the game hot, completing his first seven passes, but he deserves part of the blame for the offense failing to reach the end zone. Stafford completed 24 of 35 passes for just 203 yards. He had a couple errant throws in the second half, including one low pass to Lance Moore after the Lions recovered a muffed punt, and he nearly threw his sixth interception of the season on a two-minute drive late in the first half. But he was sharp on the Lions' final drive. Grade: C-plus

Running backs

Ameer Abdullah ran for just 33 yards on 13 carries, but he ran a beautiful route to shake K.J. Wright on a first-half pass play and showed his usual burst the few times he had an open hole. Zach Zenner had just two carries, but he picked up 9 tough yards on the Lions' final drive. He deserves to be a part of the rotation even after Joique Bell returns. Grade: C-minus

Receivers/tight ends

Calvin Johnson has turned into a possession receiver, and the Lions aren't winning enough one-on-one matchups on the outside overall. Johnson had seven catches for just 56 yards Monday and lost the game-clinching fumble inches from the goal line. Johnson did beat Cary Williams deep a couple times on plays that didn't connect. Golden Tate had a quiet return to Seattle (three catches, 29 yards), and while Tim Wright made a nice 26-yard catch late in the game, he's a liability as a blocker. He whiffed on several blocks Monday, including one on Cliff Avril when Abdullah was stopped for a 2-yard loss on the opening drive of the game. Grade: D

Lions talking points: On blown calls, bad offense

Offensive line

The Lions did not allow any sacks for the first time this year, but they still struggled to block a good defensive line. Travis Swanson was called for costly holding penalty on third-quarter run by Zenner that was close to a first down, and Riley Reiff drew a silly unnecessary roughness penalty for diving on a defender while he lay on the ground. Michael Bennett was a load inside, and the Lions won't win many games averaging just 2.9 yards a carry. Grade: D-plus

Defensive line

The Lions had six sacks, recovered three fumbles and were relentless rushing Russell Wilson all night. Wilson looked like Houdini at times escaping the blitz, and the front can be faulted for not finishing more of those plays. But considering the injuries up front – Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker left in the second half and Ziggy Ansah was playing through a groin injury – the line might have played its best game of the year. Ansah finished two sacks and forced a fumble and Caraun Reid returned a fumble for the Lions' only touchdown of the game. On one impressive series late in the first half, Ansah sacked Wilson in the open field on first-and-goal from the 9, the line stuffed a run play on second down, then sacked Wilson with a good four-man rush to force a field goal. Grade: A-minus


Travis Lewis had a stellar first half with four tackles and a sack before injuring his ankle covering a punt late in the half. Lewis did lose contain on a Wilson scramble in the first quarter, but he made a perfect read to shoot a gap and haul Thomas Rawls down for a 1-yard loss on the next play. Stephen Tulloch still looks a step slow, especially in pass coverage, although he finished with eight tackles. Josh Bynes made five stops, including one big one for a loss. Grade: B-plus

Defensive backs

The Lions played well overall on defense, but they're still allowing quarterbacks to complete too high a percentage of their passes. Wilson went 20 of 26 Monday and had several plays of more than 20 yards. James Ihedigbo had eight tackles and made a nice read to stop Rawls for no gain on a third-and-1 sweep to force a punt midway through the third quarter. He also forced the fumble that Reid returned for a touchdown with a good blitz. Ihedigbo, Darius Slay and Josh Wilson all made an impact in the Lions' blitz package. Grade: B-plus

Special teams

The Lions did a good job keeping the ball away from Tyler Lockett, limiting the dangerous return man to 30 yards on two kickoffs and just 8.4 yards per punt return. Sam Martin landed three of his punts inside the 20, and Don Carey made a heads-up fumble recovery. On the downside, TJ Jones made a poor decision to field a rocket of a punt while running backward near the goal line. Grade: B-plus


The Lions took a good Seattle team to the wire before losing on what the NFL said was a missed call, but at 0-4 they're still the only winless team in the league. Joe Lombardi showed more creativity in his playbook with a couple well-designed plays, but the fullback dive on third-and-1 early was a questionable play, and the Lions seemed to get too worried about the clock on their final drive when they called run plays on first and second down once they reached the red zone. Defensively, Teryl Austin used a nice mix of blitzes to help keep pressure on Wilson, and the coaching staff deserves credit for wading through a barrage of tough injuries. Grade: B-minus

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Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our free Lions Xtra app on your Apple and Android devices.

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