Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lions-Saints Film Review Notes

This week, instead of reviewing the Lions regular season finale, I decided to look back at the week 13 game against the Saints. I highlighted the important parts in my video review article at Pride Of Detroit this week, but I decided to post all of my notes unedited here.

  • Very first play, Chris Harris misses a tackle on a run (Louis Delmas would've made the tackle)
  • Eric Wright with good coverage on Graham, but he still caught it
  • Saints successful early on short yardage, not deep
  • Offense: First two third downs, Saints only sent three rushers (Lions went 1/2 on converting). They sent five on the next third down and forced a holding penalty (Lions would have converted if penalty wasn't called).
  • More good secondary coverage, but Brees made a great pass.
  • Saints have six men in pass protection, interestingly doubling both DTs (despite the fact that Fairley is out at this point). Leads to 19 yard pass play:
  • Eric Wright is getting visibly upset. First, upset over the Graham play above. Then gets called for an iffy pass interference in which it looks like he was pulled down by the receiver. Next, he misses a tackle on an end-around. Then, the refs miss a holding call on the Saints' rushing touchdown. Only a couple defensive plays later, Wright gets embarrassed on a bomb (that really isn't his fault). Rough second quarter.
  • Offense: failed on first down early. Found themselves in a lot of third and longs.
  • Tried to utilize screen pass early against aggressive defensive calls. Worked well on a 3rd and 17.
  • Wright was looking for help from Harris on deep TD. Did not get it:
  • Cris Collinsworth with a foreboding quote in the 2nd quarter "[Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams] has been very happy to sit in some zones and let these Lions [...] self destruct." Spooky.
  • Last drive of 1st half (for Saints): Spievey on Graham isn't going to work. Saints are almost unbeatable in no-huddle. Tough to get pressure, and Saints have great checkdown options in Graham and Darren Sproles.
  • Lions open second half with a beautiful drive...that is spoiled by a Titus Young personal foul penalty. Instead of third and one at Saints three, Lions have third and sixteen. They don't convert. Three instead of seven. 
  • Lions first and third quarters were good enough to win the game. Third quarter especially.
  • Without Young personal foul penalty and blocked field goal, the game would be 24-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
  • Even after all of those mistakes, the Lions were first and 10 at the Saints' 35 yard-line with 13 minutes left, looking to tie the game. (Drive ended with a missed 55-yard field goal, giving the Saints good field position, which they would use to score quickly).
  • On the ensuing drive, the Saints had a key 3rd and 8. Lions dialed up obvious pressure, which Brees easily read and connected with Graham, who was in man-coverage. Too easy.
Overall, the biggest thing I noticed was that the Lions had plenty of opportunities to win this game. They forced a lot of third downs, and if they would've gotten just one or two more stops on those downs, they would have won the game.

On offense, the Lions drove the ball with ease for almost the entire game. There were small miscues here and there (including a screen pass that would've almost certainly gone for a touchdown had it not been under-thrown and dropped), and the penalties were killer. But even with the penalties, the Lions could have won this game. And for that reason, I think the Lions have a very legitimate chance to win their first playoff game in two decades on Saturday.

Tonight, NFL Network is replaying this game at 8 PM. Watch it and tell me the Lions don't have a shot. My guess is you won't. Let me know what you see...

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