Lions fall to 0-2; postgame thoughts
How bad are the Lions? They're 0-2, they fell behind 21-0 for the second straight week, incited a chorus of boos and "Fire Millen" chants in their home opener, and worst of all the team they lost to last week, the dreadful Falcons, got walloped by Tampa Bay and a Tampa 2 defense, 24-9. The all-pro looking Michael Turner was human against the Bucs (14 carries, 42 yards a week after running for 220 yards against the Lions) and quarterback Matt Ryan played like the rookie he is (13-of-33, two interceptions). It could be an ugly season.
A couple leftover notes from Sunday before I leave the press box:
Calvin Johnson is silly good. He had a career-high 129 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The first was a juggling grab against Charles Woodson, the second he pulled away from half of Green Bay's defense, galloped to the end zone and capped the score with a kiss-the-rim dunk on the crossbar. He's a modern-day Barry Sanders, a phenomenal talent on a lackluster team.
Daniel Bullocks (12 tackles) and Dewayne White (a sack and fumble recovery) played well, and Cory Redding (two tackles for loss) led a mostly good day against the rush. White won't appear on the injury report and his presence may not have made a difference, but he did not play on Atlanta's go-ahead field-goal drive in the fourth quarter after he lost a cap on his tooth. Cliff Avril was on the field instead.
Gosder Cherilus didn't start either of the first two games, but he's the Lions' best tackle right now. Right tackle George Foster gave up two sacks before being lifted for Cherilus at halftime, and left tackle Jeff Backus had two holding penalties. Cherilus should have started from the get go, but there's no way the Lions can deny him now.
Two of the Lions' most prominent secondary acquisitions, safety Dwight Smith and cornerback Brian Kelly, struggled Sunday. Kelly had a bad day in coverage and missed a big tackle on a third-down run. He was lifted briefly in the first half for Keith Smith. Dwight Smith played a decent overall game, but he missed a tackle on Greg Jennings' big 60-yard catch that set up Mason Crosby's go-ahead field goal after the Lions took a 25-24 lead. Keith Smith had man coverage on the play. "I got outside leverage, ride him inside to my alert man, which was the safety," he explained. "Safety's supposed to be there, there to make the tackle."
From Roy Williams on the fans, who started booing after Johnson dropped a third-down pass to stall Detroit's second drive and didn't stop until the game was over (they even ended the third quarter with an ear-catching rendition of "Fire Millen"): "I've been here five years. That's old news. They cheer that more than they do the first play of the game when the defense is out on the football field. (After we took the lead 25-24) was the loudest I've ever heard Ford Field in five years, minus the 300 empty seats" there were several thousand, actually. "This was the loudest I've ever heard. If we can get that first play of the game with Aaron Rodgers under center, can't hear, it pumps up our defense. It all works hand in hand, but at the same time we have to win to get the crowd behind us."
I don't know if he meant it as a guarantee, but Williams essentially gave one about next week's crucial game at San Francisco. "I think we're going to go across country and steal that victory and gear up for the bye week, relax, get our minds back together and get ready for the season."
That's all for now. More thoughts when after I watch the TV replay.