What shouldn’t go unnoticed – and I doubt that it did – in the Lions’ 27-23 win over the Rams on Sunday is how
The Lions’ offensive outburst that produced two touchdowns in the last eight minutes was sizzling. And so was what Suh did up front.
Suh played like he did as a rookie in 2010, when he was voted a starting defensive tackle on the NFC Pro Bowl team and first-team All Pro. He was somewhat less than that last year, for a number of reasons.
There are no serious questions about the Lions’ offense. There is too much talent and too many ways for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to scheme to use it for the offense to be shut down unless it self-destructs.
Where the Lions wind up in the standings will be determined by the defense. The strength is in the front seven – linemen and linebackers – with the secondary still being pieced together.
The Week 1 Monday Countdown focuses on the defense, where Suh is a critical element. There is also a look at a neat exchange between
There’s also a replay of Cris Carter’s dig at Braylon Edwards, who missed a big catch in Seattle’s loss to Arizona.
We start with Suh:
1. Dominator: Suh’s stats line for Sunday – two tackles and a sack – doesn’t show a lot, but that’s typical for defensive tackles. They don’t pile up tackles. They control their area so others can get clean shots to make tackles.
Suh was great as a rookie in 2010, with 10 sacks. He declined to four sacks last season, when there was as much controversy as production, and he rated his own performance as “indifferent.”
Suh looked renewed and re-committed in the preseason, and his play Sunday backed that up.
In addition to the sack, both of his tackles were for losses in the backfield and he had a hit on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
On one play, he grabbed Rams running back Steven Jackson with one hand in the backfield and threw him down.
Jackson is listed at 240 pounds, and he isn’t exactly dead weight.
“It’s always fun to tackle a guy that you know, especially a good friend,” Suh said after the game.
It was a good game for the tackles.
2. The back end: A key stat was how the Lions handled the Rams’ running game. Jackson has hurt them before, but he was held to 53 yards on 21 carries, with a long run of 9 yards.
Having the front four control the line of scrimmage freed the linebackers to clean up.
“It was fun playing behind them,” said safety
3. A hug from Stafford: Pettigrew had three big catches in the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. The Lions went 80 yards on five plays, and Pettigrew was the target of Stafford’s three passes. They went for gains of 20 yards, 18 and 24.
The 24-yard catch made it first and goal at the five, and Smith scored on the next play.
While everyone was celebrating, Stafford jogged over to Pettigrew and hugged him by wrapping both hands around his helmet.
Pettigrew said later that he felt down because of a potential TD pass he dropped near the end of the first half.
It wasn’t a routine catch, but it was one Pettigrew should have made. The Lions settled for a field goal on the drive.
“I gave up a big one earlier in the game, a big play,” Pettigrew said. “So that’s the least I could do. It was definitely catchable.”
4. One for one: Riley Reiff, the Lions’ first-round draft pick, played one play on offense. He lined up on the right side, as an eligible receiver, on first and goal at the one in the second quarter.
On his first carry as a pro, former Wayne State star Joique Bell scored a touchdown on a run through the left side of the line.
5. Ram tough: Jeff Fisher has made an impact as the new head coach of the Rams. They were a mess under Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired after last season’s 2-14 record.
More than half the roster is new, and the Rams kept 14 rookies.
The Rams scored a league-low 183 points last season and were outscored by 214 points in the season.
In the opener, they may have had the same result as last season, but they are not the same team.
6. RG3 No. 1: Of the five rookie quarterbacks who started on Sunday, Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III was by far the best. Griffin passed for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and had a passer rating of 139.9 in a 40-32 win at New Orleans.
The other four rookie starters combined to throw two TD passes – as many as Griffin had on his own – with 11 interceptions.
Next best behind Griffin was Russell Wilson of Seattle – one TD, one interception, and a passer rating of 62.5.
The other three:
Andrew Luck, Colts – one TD, three picks, 52.9 rating.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – 0 TDs, three picks, 39.0 rating.
Brandon Weeden, Browns – 0 TDs, four picks, 5.1 rating.
The most important stat: Griffin was the only winner.
7. Braylon’s bobble: Wilson would have been a winner if Braylon Edwards had caught a fourth-down pass on a fourth and four in the last 30 seconds.
Wilson’s pass went off Edwards’s hands with 18 seconds left, leaving Seattle with a 20-16 loss.
Edwards, who was kept ahead of Terrell Owens, had a low-impact game – five catches, 43 yards and a long reception of 16 yards.
8. Cris Carter’s dig: Carter does a call-in segment Monday mornings on ESPN’s Mike and Mike show. Carter is sharp and incisive and not afraid to speak his mind on any subject.
He set the bar high in his comment about Edwards, when asked if the Seahawks made a mistake by keeping Edwards over Owens.
“Between the four of them, they only have two hands,” Carter said.
9. Replacement review: Officials in the Seattle-Arizona game gave Seattle a fourth timeout, one more than the limit. Seattle coach Pete Carroll called time with 30 seconds left.
Two plays before that timeout, the officials announced that Seattle had used its last timeout because of an injury to receiver Doug Baldwin. NFL rules require a team to use a timeout when a player is injured in the last two minutes.
Referee Bruce Hermansen admitted the mistake in a statement after the game.
10. Saints reaction: For one game at least, all the talk that Drew Brees would pull the Saints through the offseason controversy stemming from their bounty program, and the suspension of head coach Sean Payton for the season, turned out to be just that – talk.
Any team would miss its head coach. The quarterback is a strong presence, but he isn’t the coach.
The Saints had 12 penalties in their home loss to the Redskins (who also had 12). Brees completed 24-of-52 passes with three TDs and two interceptions.
Brees set the NFL record by completing 71.2 percent of his passes last season. He also set the one-season record for passing yards, with 5,476.
11. The NFL’s top dozen after Week 1:
1. 49ers (1-0): They beat the Packers at Lambeau for the first time since 1990.
2. Broncos (1-0): Peyton Manning and the defense both performed.
3. Texans (1-0): Beat a bad Miami team, like they should have.
4. Packers (0-1): Still my pick to win the Super Bowl.
5. Patriots (1-0): Beat the Titans, like they should have.
6. Cowboys (1-0): Good opening road win over the Giants.
7. Falcons (1-0): KC is good, but no match for the Falcons.
8. Redskins (1-0): Winning at New Orleans impressed.
9. Ravens (0-0): Monday night test vs. Cincy.
10. Lions (1-0): Defense kept it close, offense won it vs. Rams.
11. Bears (1-0): Beat up on Colts, big game Thursday vs. Packers.
12. Eagles (1-0): Barely beat the Browns, but they did.
12 The NFL’s bottom 5:
5. Bills (0-1): My wild-card pick in the AFC, but showed nothing vs. Jets.
4. Colts (0-1): Loss at Chicago starts a long season.
3. Jaguars (0-1): OT loss to Minnesota was giveaway.
2. Browns (0-1): Tough loss to Philly, but Brandon Weeden was awful.
1. Dolphins (0-1): I underestimated how bad they are. They drop down from third worst to the bottom.