The defense started out on fire, coming into Atlanta with a purpose.
The pass rush may have dried up, with no more sacks after that first drive, but the defense provided a very solid effort from start to finish. The Falcons had just 254 yards on the day, and it’s the first time the Lions have held an opponent under 300 yards this season.
On top of that, the defense gave the offense a shot to win the game with a forced fumble as the final two minutes approached.
From start to finish this was a very good defensive performance, something that can be said for six of the last seven games in line with the Lions being at least in those same six games to the end. That’s a promising sign for the long-term outlook of this unit.
Best defensive player: LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Reeves-Maybin has quietly been a very solid player for Detroit all season. He was known for his standout special teams play, but he has become a good rotational linebacker now.
Over the last two weeks, he has been most noticeable as a blitzer up the middle. But his biggest play on Sunday was forcing the aforementioned fumble at the end of the game.
Reeves-Maybin continues to provide the Lions with a quality depth option, and he has stepped up lately. Something his teammate, Alex Anzalone, was sure to point out.
Worst defensive player: CB Ifeatu Melifonwu
Melifonwu was chosen for the unenviable task of covering Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts for most of the game, and that experiment did not go very well.
Melifonwu got beat on multiple occasions as Pitts racked up over 100 yards in the game.
The rookie corner out of Syracuse deserves some slack though, He recently came back from an, injury and was playing just his fifth career game. He had played just 15 defensive snaps in his first two games back, with a game out on the COVID list in between.
So while Melfonwu had a lackluster game, he’s only going to get better from here. This is a game you throw out, and allow the player learn from mistakes made in a tough matchup.
Special Teams-5/5 Stars
Jack Fox might just be the best quarterback on the Lions roster.
He has now completed both of his pass attempts on fake punts this season, for 38 yards.
In addition to converting on the fake punt, Fox also saw both of his punts go for over 50 yards on Sunday. One landed inside the 20-yard line.
Riley Patterson drilled all three of his field goals and his lone extra point to remain perfect this season.
The kick and punt coverage wasn’t perfect, but it was still good. If it wasn’t for the fake punt this probably would have been a four-star grade, but because the fake worked out the special teams gets the bump up to five.