Grading The Lions Defense
Run defense: 5/5 stars
The Vikings only managed 22 yards on the ground, with Dalvin Cook running for 23 on 15 attempts. There’s no other way to slice it, this was an absolutely dominant performance from the Lions front. All of the defensive linemen, the linebackers, and even the defensive backs on a few occasions were shooting into the backfield to wrap up the Vikings’ backs.
The Lions had several tackles for loss on Sunday, which helped slow the Vikings’ offense down enough to come away with the win.
Pass defense: 2/5 stars
While the run defense was spectacular, the pass defense was not so sharp. Kirk Cousins threw all over the Lions for over 400 yards. The saving grace for the Lions was they were able to hold the Vikings out of the end zone a few times, limiting the points allowed. That effort was aided by Detroit’s pass-rush generating four sacks in the game. It was a bend-don’t-break style that did enough to escape with a win.
The evolution of the Lions’ defense has been quite the sight over the past six weeks. They have gone from historically bad to average. While that may not seem like a glowing endorsement, the offense is good enough to afford the defense to have performances like this and still win comfortably.
Best defensive player: DE Aidan Hutchinson
It was a complete game for Hutchinson, as he impacted the game consistently from start to finish. He had a few big plays in the run game, including a huge tackle for loss. As a pass rusher, Hutchinson was able to generate a healthy amount of pressure and he secured his seventh sack of the season as well.
Hutchinson has been the best defensive lineman on the roster from the moment he was drafted. In fact, he’s arguably been the best defender period. There’s a sense of security with having such a consistent presence on the defense who you know will be productive week in and week out.
Worst defensive player: CB Amani Oruwariye
With Jeff Okudah heavily limited in this game after dealing with an illness, Oruwariye moved back into the defensive rotation. Unfortunately he was often matched up against Justin Jefferson, who Oruwariye has struggled mightily with in the past. Unsurprisingly that trend continued, as Jefferson demolished the Lions’ secondary to the tune of 223 yards. On one play in particular, Oruwariye seemed to be in slow motion while Jefferson undressed him with a great route and made a catch in front of him.
Oruwariye has struggled to get on the field this season due to poor play. He did nothing on Sunday to suggest he should be getting more snaps going forward.