Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions
October, 13, 2013
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com
CLEVELAND -- Some thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 31-17 win over the Cleveland Browns.
What it means: It was by no means a pretty win for Detroit. Receivers dropped passes. The secondary didn't have great coverage. The Detroit defensive line couldn't really get much pressure on Brandon Weeden, either.
But on the road, with their best offensive player, Calvin Johnson, still hurting, the Lions managed to win. Sure, it isn't a conference or divisional game, but these are games that teams in the upper half of the NFL win. They are games playoff teams win.
Not saying Detroit is a playoff team yet -- the Lions are in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL -- but the win Sunday meant they'll go into the bye week at the beginning of November with no worse than a .500 record. They also have two road wins this season.
Stock watch: Rising -- Joseph Fauria and DeAndre Levy. Fauria, the rookie tight end, saw more snaps Sunday with Tony Scheffler missing the game due to injury and caught three touchdown passes. Levy is continually the Lions' most productive defensive player. He intercepted his third and fourth passes of the season. He reads screens exceptionally well and just makes smart plays. Falling -- Detroit's front-four dominance and Calvin Johnson's health. The Lions' front four had been dominant throughout the first five games of the season, but they really struggled to pressure Weeden. Weeden often had a lot of time to read his progressions and make smart passes. The Lions didn't really get to Weeden until the fourth quarter. Johnson played Sunday and caught three passes for 25 yards, but didn't quite look like a dominating player.
Return of Fauria: He still isn't being used as much more than a giant red zone target, but Fauria had the most productive game of his career Sunday against Cleveland. He scored three of Detroit's four touchdowns, including a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a 21-17 lead. All three of his catches -- and all three of his targets -- went for scores Sunday. He now has five touchdowns in six games and has caught a touchdown in every game he has been officially targeted with a pass.
What's next: Detroit, at 4-2, returns home for two straight games, first against Cincinnati and then Dallas the following week.