The Detroit Lions won a nailbiter in Tampa Bay Sunday, coming out with a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Detroit never trailed throughout the entire contest, clinching the game via a Matt Prater field goal with just 20 seconds remaining. The win brings the Lions above .500 to 7-6 on the season. However, they still sit three games behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North and are a long-shot for a playoff berth. Here are three takeaways from the Lions’s week 14 triumph:
Week 14 Detroit Lions Takeaways
Sunday’s battle between the Buccaneers and Lions was anything but a clean football game. Detroit totaled three turnovers throughout the contest, while Tampa Bay added five of their own. Matthew Stafford and Jameis Winston tossed two interceptions apiece, with the remaining turnovers resulting from lost fumbles.
So far this season, the Lions have the 20th most giveaways in the NFL. However, they combat that number with 24 takeaways, third best in the league. Overall, their difference of +4 in the turnover department ranks 11th in football. While that isn’t something to necessarily brag about, it is certainly an improvement upon the Lions 20th ranking last year and 26th the season prior.
Detroit, however, cannot continue to give away the ball the way they have recently. While Sunday improved the team’s turnover differential, the Lions cannot always rely on five turnovers from the opposition. Thus, as the season enters its closing stages, Detroit needs to be more careful with the football.
Efficient Passing Attack
Despite his two interceptions- both on very questionable passes- Stafford had a fantastic outing in Tampa Bay. The Tampa native completed 36 of 44 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown. Those 381 yards mark a season-high for the 29-year-old, and Sunday marked the second consecutive week that Stafford completed above 80 percent of his passes.
After struggling against Minnesota on Thanksgiving, Stafford has posted some incredible numbers over the past two weeks. The Georgia product has completed 60 of his last 73 passes. His current passer rating of 97.9 would be a career best. Stafford’s 7.87 yards per pass attempt would also serve as a new career high, surprising considering the star quarterback is far removed from his gunslinging days. But that just speaks to how efficient Stafford has become over the years.
Stafford’s top-notch receiving corps have undoubtedly aided him in his recent success. Eric Ebron had a career day in Tampa, hauling in 10 passes for 94 yards. Golden Tate continued to dazzle after-the-catch, posting 85 yards on eight receptions. Meanwhile, Marvin Jones remains Stafford’s favorite deep weapon, with the Cal alum totaling 64 yards on just three catches. Lastly, elusive running back Theo Riddick caught six passes out of the backfield for a season-high 64 yards of his own.
Detroit’s passing attack is proving to be essential as the team tries to somehow squander a postseason berth in the campaign’s final weeks. Hopefully, their success continues as the season concludes.
The Running Game
The offensive line did well in protecting Stafford Sunday, giving up a grand total of zero sacks. However, they still failed to lead the Lions run game.
With Ameer Abdullah absent for a second straight week, Detroit managed just 53 rushing yards in Tampa Bay on 18 carries, a 2.9 yards per carry average. The Lions now rank dead last in the NFL with a pitiful 76.3 rushing yards per contest. Their 3.3 yards per carry also place last in football.
This is a problem that has been ignored far too long in the Motor City, and it’s not just the offensive line’s fault. Heading into this spring’s NFL Draft and free agency, acquiring a top-notch running back is a necessity. But for now, the Lions can only hope to improve upon the issue next Saturday at home against the Chicago Bears.