I proposed five things to watch that might help tell the story of the game between the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos. I’m back with a brief discussion of each point with the benefit of hindsight.
1. Quick Start
It wasn’t a great start for the Lions based on the way the Broncos moved the ball on their opening possession but things turned quickly after that. I wanted to see the Lions “win” each of the first three quarters to give themselves the ability to rest Stafford late in the game (read here if you don’t believe me!). The Lions did just that by “winning” the first quarter 7-3, the second quarter 17-0 and the third quarter 14-0.
2. Lions Run Defense
The Lions gave up some chunks to Knowshon Moreno and a big gain to Lance Ball early but they held their own between the Broncos’ first drive and garbage time. The final numbers don’t look great, 195 rushing yards for the Broncos at a clip of 6.5 yards per carry, but Tim Tebow was held in check until well after the game was decided.
3. Stafford’s Health
Matthew Stafford looked healthier than anyone probably expected. He certainly threw the ball well enough and his 21-yard run was three yards longer than Tim Tebow’s longest on the day. I don’t think too much was made of the injury earlier in the week but it was a non-issue on Sunday. With the bye week this week, there is no reason to discuss Stafford’s ankle going into the team’s next game in two weeks.
4. Jason Hanson From DEEEEEEP!
I was hoping he’d have the chance at a field goal attempt of at least 58-yards but it didn’t play out that way. Hanson did manage to kick a 50-yarder but that has become relatively routine for him – certainly not anything aided by the thin mile high air. Oh well.
5. Calvin Johnson vs. Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey seemed to get the better of CJ early on as Calvin was without a catch, or even a look, in the first quarter. The Lions moved him around the field to get away from Bailey and that worked to get him a few catches. Calvin finally got the better of Bailey midway through the third quarter with a 56-yard touchdown reception. It’s only a matter of time with this guy.