Lions Leftovers: Detroit dominates NY Giants in every phase but one

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The Lions had the national spotlight Monday night and used it to dismantle the New York Giants 24-10. At first blush, it appears that Detroit dominated in all three phases of the game. I agree with two of the three.

The special teams were top-notch. Matt Prater has hit every kick he has attempted this season, including one of at least 56 yards in each game. His big boot Monday night needed a little extra help, but it still counts!

Rookie returner Jamal Agnew picked up a punt off the ground that could have been a disaster, instead, it was an 88-yard touchdown. And a pretty one at that!

Even their new addition Jeff Locke did a nice job, pinning the Giants inside their own 20 on three of his five punts.

As far as the Lions defense is concerned, they have been superb in both of their victories. They have already forced five turnovers, after getting just 14 all of last season. Against New York, they held the Giants to just 33% on third down and stopped them on both fourth down attempts when the game was still in question in the fourth quarter.

The Detroit defensive front seven owned the NY offensive line. They harassed Eli Manning all night and sacked him five times. If not for a couple last-second desperation throws, it would have been at least seven. Ziggy Ansah had three of those sacks, and rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis added the first of his pro career.

The only Giants offensive player that had a decent night was rookie tight end Evan Engram, who got free behind Tahir Whitehead for an easy touchdown catch early in the second quarter. Here is what the thousand-yard staring Jim Caldwell was thinking after that score:

Detroit’s defense held Manning to 239 yards passing, and the Giants to 270 total yards.

Their offense was totally dominant, right?

So what would you call an offense that only had 257 yards, including 122 through the air?

Well, I would call that the Lions offense on Monday, which is why they only dominated two of three phases. The Giants defense flushed Stafford from the pocket a lot and sacked him three times.

The argument has been made that Matthew Stafford didn’t have to do more than 15-for-21 for those 122 yards and two first-half touchdown passes because they were running away with the game. What you need to remember is that this was still a one-score game early in the fourth quarter before Agnew’s heroics.

The Lions offense did not score a point in the second half, and if not for a couple key drops by Giants receiver Brandon Marshall, it would have been very easy for this to be a much tighter game. Even when New York trailed by 14 in the final eight minutes, it took beautiful coverage by Darius Slay on back-to-back potential touchdown passes to hold onto that lead.

Ameer Abdullah did have a pretty good night, with 86 yards on 17 carries. However, before his 34-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter, Lions running backs only had four rushes for 5 or more yards. Just like Stafford, they were solid but unremarkable.

That being said, the Lions did win a road game in the conference against a team that dominated them last year. Much to the delight of the deep-thinking Coach Caldwell.

No one can deny the fact that the Lions are 2-0 and sit alone atop the NFC North. However, only time will tell if the Cardinals and Giants are the potential playoff teams they were projected to be before the season started, or if these turn out to be victories against a couple of the worst teams in the conference. Which is what Arizona and New York both look like after two weeks.

The question is going to be if Detroit’s offense can do something spectacular against a quality team when they need to, like if the defense and Prater cannot win another game without them.

We will likely find out when the Lions host the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Which leaves us just enough time for one final thought from Jim Caldwell…

Lions Leftovers is the weekly post-game commentary from Detroit Sports Nation contributor Rob Otto

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