The Detroit Lions were a huge favorite going into Monday night’s game, and they went out there and proved why they deserve a little bit of respect this year. They controlled the ball for over 36 minutes and doubled the Giants in total yards (417-197). But it was Stafford’s calm, cool and collective demeanor that ultimately propelled them over the G-Men by a score of 35-14.
Here are some good and bad takeaways from Monday night’s opener.
Sep 8, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) gesture at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Stafford was heavily criticized for his tendencies of throwing his patented side arm throw combined with poor footwork and throwing off of his back foot constantly. Last night we saw a new and improved Stafford. Yes, he did throw a few side arm tosses, but I believe the biggest problem coming into this season was his decision making and his footwork. You could tell last night that Stafford has really been working hard on those two things, and it’s paid off immensely.
Last year you may have gotten the sense that Stafford would try to do too much and force too many passes into double or triple coverage. Last night I thought he did a great job of working through his progressions and checking the ball down or throwing it away rather than force it down field. That doesn’t mean that Stafford didn’t opt to go deep against the Giants, however. Stafford threw seven passes targeted 20 yards or longer against the Giants, and completed four of those for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Did I mention Stafford’s been working on his jukes as well?
Every Detroit Lions fan in the world was holding their breath after Megatron laid out for a deep pass from Matthew Stafford and appeared to be shaken up on the play. Luckily for everyone it seemed to just be a case of getting the wind knocked out of him, but it’s clear that this team absolutely needs Calvin Johnson.
Megatron ended the night with seven catches on 11 targets for 164 yards and two touchdowns. It’s safe to say that the Stafford-Johnson connection is back in business.
Aside from Stafford and Megatron, no one had a better game than DeAndre Levy. He accounted for nine tackles and made a few key plays halfway through the game.
The Giants opened up the second half with the ball and Levy made it clear that the Lions weren’t going to allow them to gain any momentum. On 2nd and 6 the Giants attempted a reverse play with the running back handing it off to Jerrel Jernigan, but Levy immediately recognized the play and hunted him down for a two yard loss. The very next play Levy made an incredible interception on a poorly thrown ball by Eli Manning, and it was curtains for the Giants.
After scoring two touchdowns on their first two drives, the Lions’ offense cooled off a bit and couldn’t get anything going heading into the second half. After committing eight penalties in the first half, paired with rookie kicker Nate Freese shanking his first NFL field goal attempt, it was looking as if we were going to repeat last year’s matchup between the two teams that essentially knocked the Lions out of the playoffs.
However, Jim Caldwell and his staff did a phenomenal job on making halftime adjustments, and the Lions didn’t commit a single penalty in the second half. They also didn’t commit a single turnover the entire game.
Larry Warford, Golden Tate, Joseph Fauria, Ndamukong Suh, Ezekial Ansah, Stephen Tulloch, Tahir Whitehead, Darius Slay, Glover Quin, Nevin Lawson, Rashean Mathis, George Johnson