Special Teams: B
Sam Martin punted well. David Akers kicked well, going 1-1. Jeremy Ross had a nice punt return to set the Lions up in New York territory. The grade is lowered due to poor coverage on the opening kickoff of overtime, which ended up being a moot point because of an Andre Brown fumble.
Even without Calvin Johnson, Linehan needs to find ways to move the ball besides screen passes. I’ll give him credit though for giving Bell the ball 20 times. He was Detroit’s most effective weapon today. Gunther Cunningham’s defense did enough to win, especially considering the hand he was dealt in terms of health. Jim Schwartz managed the clock well, but was caught yelling profanities at the fans after he chose to play for overtime. That didn’t sit well with me, and it shouldn’t with anyone else. It’s immature and classless, and has no place in sports, particularly of the professional kind.
Detroit now has one game left this season as they’ll miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Speculation about coaching changes, free agents, and the NFL draft has already begun, but I’m interested to see how the Lions finish. Will they come out fired up against a NFC North rival? Will the Lions sit hobbled players that they see at critical to the future, such as Calvin Johnson and Darius Slay? Can the Lions finish 5-1 in the division, yet still lose the division? As much as it hurts, enjoy this last week. It’s the last real Detroit Lions football we’ll see until next September, and as much pain as they cause, that’s a sad reality.