Every Tuesday during the season, we’ll grade the total performance of every member of the Detroit Lions’ defensive backfield turned in the week before.
Sunday was a rare day in the history of the Detroit Lions. Perhaps not since the days of Alex Karras, Joe Schmidt and Dick “Night Train” Lane has the team’s defensive backfield been less relied upon in a game. In Detroit’s 17-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the group was barely seen and heard from.
Detroit’s defensive line got down and dirty, forcing pressure in the face of Teddy Bridgewater which led to plenty bad decisions. Early on, the backfield forced the first interception of the day. Afterward, their blanket coverage prevented Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson from getting going, and even helped force multiple coverage sacks along the way. Nobody allowed a big gain.
Start to finish, it was a fantastic effort for the Lions on the road in a game they needed to bounce back after a tough loss. Regardless of the offensive problems of the opposition, there’s simply no disregarding the excellent play of everyone involved this week.
1. Glover Quin, S, A. Quin had the big play of the day from the group, undercutting Bridgewater’s pass on the first drive of the game and intercepting it in the end zone. Aside from that, he played the middle of the field well, while contributing two tackles. If the Lions will be forced to go without James Ihedigbo again, Quin will remain vital to the defense as a whole.
2. Darius Slay, CB, A-. There’s nothing better for a cornerback than rarely being heard from. Sunday, Slay was on the field but barely noticable, meaning he locked down his receivers and played solid defense. He had two tackles and nothing else, but it’s tough to give Slay a low grade for not showing up. Clearly, he did his job.
3. Danny Gorrer, CB, B+. Since being signed and stepping in off the street, Gorrer has done a great job when called upon. Sunday, he had a fantastic pass breakup on a slant as his big play. Though he only collected one tackle, the fact that Gorrer continues to be in the right place at the right time for the defense is huge. When was the last time a desperate Lions’ signing worked out this seamlessly?
4. Rashean Mathis, CB, B+. About the only thing that keeps Mathis from a higher grade was the fact that he got flagged for a key illegal contact penalty which helped sustain a Vikings’ drive. Otherwise, like Slay, he was rarely heard from at corner, a sure sign he was getting his job done and holding up in coverage. The veteran has done well this season.
5. James Ihedigbo, S, B+. Ihedigbo managed to get pressure on the quarterback, collecting half a sack on the day in addition to four tackles. He left with what appeared to be an injury later, but when he was on the field, his impact was certainly felt. For the Lions, everything looks better when they have had the benefit of the veteran Ihedigbo to keep things together in the backfield. He’ll be important this week against the Saints.
Total Passing Yards/Touchdowns Allowed To Vikings: 143, zero.
Total Passing Yards/Touchdowns Allowed This Season: 1,183 with five touchdowns. (5th, NFL).