Monday, September 27, 2010

Vikings cruise thru Lions 24-10

Coming off of back to back dramatic endings that resulted in L’s, the Lions decided to give fans a rest and simply hand the game over to the Vikings at the end. This was clearly a game that Detroit missed injured starting QB Matthew Stafford. Sean Hill completed 67% of his passes but only averaged 8 yards per completion. Minnesota once again struggled through the air but did just fine on the ground thanks to Adrian Peterson. This game also saw 6 combined turnovers that led to all 10 points scored by the Lions and 7 points for the Vikings.

The Lions offense was dealt yet another injury blow when Jahvid Best went out in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. The Lions only managed 63 yards on the ground and have averaged just 83 yards per game for the season so far. The passing game showed the effects of losing starting wide receiver Nate Burleson. Hill was forced to rely on screens and safety check downs that led to 21 catches by non receivers. Hill was also responsible for the final nails in the coffin by throwing back to back end zone interceptions late in the 4th quarter.

The Vikings on the other had no problem running the ball with Adrian Peterson going for 160 yards and 2 scores on 23 carries. The front seven of the Lions could only hold up so long against the constant pounding by Peterson. This inevitably led to his longest scoring run of his career on an 80 yard score late in the 3rd quarter.

Brett Favre on the other hand won’t be feeling to well Monday morning. He was only sacked once but had constant pressure in his face. The defensive line knocked him down several times and forced several errant throws that resulted in two interceptions. Even when the Lions didn’t get pressure on him his lackluster chemistry with the receivers continued. He was clearly frustrated and not on the same page as his receivers were running routes and reading the defense.

The Vikings can walk away from the game knowing they avoided a disastrous 0-3 start but still have work to do on offense. The Lions on the other hand are seeing yet another season goes by the wayside and will complete their road division schedule against Green Bay next week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lions lose heartbreaker to Bears 19-14

This game has so many storylines I almost don’t know where to start. I could talk about the Bear’s overwhelming edge in total yards 463 to 168 for the Lions. I could bring up the 4 turnovers the Bear’s had that led to 14 points for the Lions. I could actually defend the Lion’s defense for giving up that many yards but holding the Bears scoreless for 95% of the 2nd half. I could also bring up the Lions went from being up 14-3 with 1:30 left in the first half to total disaster in the remaining 90 seconds of the half.

All of the above starting points are valid yet pale in comparison to the single biggest factor/play/story of the game. The old cliché “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck” comes to mind. Just insert if Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has 2 feet down in the end zone, clearly displays possession to the refs, has his knee and rear end hit the ground, it’s a touchdown right. Wrong according to the mystifying rules of the N.F.L. none of that was good enough to “quote” complete the “process” of the catch. I guess they wanted Calvin Johnson to gift wrap the ball complete with a bow and present it to the officials. There is not a football fan from here to Timbuktu that would watch that play and not say it’s a touchdown.

The Lions running game and offensive line that looked so good in pre season provided an anemic 20 yard game total. And in case you’re wondering, that wasn’t a typo only 20 total rushing yards or as many yards Chris Johnson can get blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back. The Bears offense showed the growing pains of going thru year 1 of the Mike Martz offensive system. Jay Cutler was completely out of sync with his receivers on numerous occasions and others just wildly inaccurate. Jay Cutler has a weak Lions secondary to thank for his 23 completions on 35 attempts for 362 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception day.

As a lifelong Lions fan myself what occurred in the last 1:30 falls into the typical “it’s the Lions” category of bad luck, bad calls, bad injuries etc… After scoring their second touch down off of a Bears turnover a 14-3 halftime lead seemed all but guaranteed right. Not so fast because this is the Lions and one 89 yard screen pass touchdown pass to Matt Forte later it was 14-10 all of a sudden. Ok, disheartening and momentum killing but still a four point lead and starting the third quarter with the ball. But wait a minute, here comes Julius Peppers around the corner to sack Matt Stafford and cause a potential season crushing shoulder injury to Stafford. Initial reports have him missing several weeks pending further medical testing. Lion’s fans can take heart that it’s not the same shoulder he hurt last year right, oh never mind it is his throwing shoulder this time around.

I would not want to be a Bear’s fan right now either, if it took all of this to eek out a win against the Lions. Jay Cutler has a very steep learning curve to run this offense. The defense will eventually play teams that run an actual N.F.L. caliber offense to test their mettle. The Lions on the other hand have no hope if they are forced to rely on their back up QB Sean Hill for any length of time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

U of M opens up with 30-10 win over University of Connecticut

The newly renovated Big House was christened by the Denard Robinson show. U of M’s dual threat quarter back ran for 197 yards and passed for 186 yards for 383 total yards of offense. Connecticut’s offense did their defense no favors and let Michigan control the ball for 37 minutes overall. UConn’s defense saw a steady dose of quarterback runs and screen passes throughout the game.

The game opened up with several dazzling runs by Robinson that helped Michigan gain 287 yards on the ground for the game. The offensive line showed itself to be a unit of strength, paving the way for Robinson and the running back duo of Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith who combined for 99 yards themselves. Michigan’s offense used the running game to set up the passing game to perfection. Robinson threw a healthy dose of screen passes with a few deep balls going 19 of 22 completed passes for 186 yards and 1 touchdown. Michigan knows what it has with his legs but his improvement throwing the ball could make or break the entire season.

Unfortunately as impressive as the Michigan offense was their defense was equally unimpressive. The defensive line is average at best. The secondary is very weak to say the least. The halftime score would have been much closer if Connecticut’s wide receivers had not dropped several wide open deep passes. This put a lot of pressure on the UConn defense that it could not withstand. The defense can only hope that the offense will be able to put up shoot out like point totals game in and game out to bail them out. Of course, this will be much easier in non-conference play compared to conference play but only time will tell.