NFL Wire News

Lions seek to seize the opportunity

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ALLEN PARK, Mich. — After beating the Minnesota Vikings Sunday 16-14, Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin recalled a quotation coach Jim Caldwell shared in a team meeting Saturday from the Chinese military strategy book, “The Art of War”:

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized,” Quin said.

The message perhaps struck Quin as he now has six interceptions, tied for the NFL lead, but it also applies to the 2014 Lions team that is now 10-4. With the Green Bay Packers (10-4) losing to the Buffalo Bills 21-13 on Sunday, the Lions had an opportunity to draw even in the NFC North, and they knew it because the public address announcer shared the score before the rare 4:25 p.m. game at Ford Field. And as they have most of the 2014 season, the Lions took advantage of the opportunity.

The Lions’ win gives them a lead in the division because of their Week 3 win over the Packers. It also ensures that one more win will give them a playoff berth, and two more wins — at Chicago then at Green Bay — would give them a first-round bye.

“We can taste it, man,” said defensive end Jason Jones, who blocked a 26-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that allowed the Lions to drive to the win. “It’s right there in front of us. We’ve been in control, the driver’s seat, the whole year, and right now we’ve just got to keep putting the pedal to the floor and keep moving.”

Caldwell, meanwhile, has every intention of keeping his team focused on the next opportunity, which comes next Sunday against the Bears.

“I hope he’s talking about tasting practice next week,” Caldwell said when told of Jones’ remarks.

To win Sunday’s game, the Lions needed a few game-changing plays. Quin and Darius Slay each had an interception, and the Lions sacked Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater four times. Minnesota started with a 14-0 lead 20 minutes into the game, but the Lions held them scoreless the rest of the game.

“We just had to do what we do,” Quin said.

Jones’ field-goal block ensured the Lions needed just a field goal to take a lead. On the ensuing drive, running back Joique Bell had four carries for 31 yards, wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a 23-yard catch, and Matt Prater made a 33-yard field goal to give the Lions a 16-14 lead with 3:38 left in regulation.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford receives credit for his 16th career game-winning drive, though he did struggle and finished 17 of 28 for 153 yards and one touchdown. The Lions didn’t have any turnovers, which was a highlight, but the offense needs to be better if they hope to have success in the playoffs. They had just 233 total yards.

“Sometimes, it’s not going to be pretty. We’ve lost pretty ones. It’s nice to win an ugly one,” Stafford said. “It’s part of being a good football team is finding ways to win when you don’t play your best in any of the phases, but we rallied together in the second half and made enough plays to win it.”

Bell had 103 yards from scrimmage — 62 rushing and 41 receiving. Johnson had four catches for 53 yards and wide receiver Golden Tate had seven catches for 38 yards, including the Lions’ only touchdown.

Bridgewater finished 31 of 41 for 315 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also missed a pass to Jarius Wright that would have set up a shorter field-goal try on the game’s final drive, and the Vikings looked lost trying to beat the clock. Blair Walsh missed a 68-yard try that was a few yards short as time expired.

“We’ve been having plenty of opportunities, and right now down the stretch, opportunities have continued to multiply as long as we continue to seize each and every game,” Quin said. “As long as we continue to take care of our end, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue playing. We’ve got to just continue to stay locked in and stay focused and make sure we don’t take any opportunity we have for granted.”

–Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle is likely heading to injured reserve with a left knee injury. A cart took Waddle off the field in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Vikings after Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen fell into his knee.

The Lions didn’t have any official transactions Monday, but they could place Waddle on injured reserve Tuesday to create an opening on the 53-man roster.

REPORT CARD VS. BUCCANEERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C — Matthew Stafford and the Lions receivers never got into a rhythm as he finished with just 153 passing yards and one touchdown, a 7-yarder to Golden Tate set up by an interception. Calvin Johnson led the Lions with 53 receiving yards, running back Joique Bell had 41 yards and Tate had seven catches but just 38 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B — As has been the case the past few weeks, the Lions ran the ball better than they did earlier in the season, but they still have room for improvement. Joique Bell had 15 carries for 62 yards, but nobody else was productive. Reggie Bush had three carries for 7 yards, and Theo Riddick had a 4-yard carry. The highlight was Bell’s four carries for 31 yards on the game-winning field-goal drive.

–PASS DEFENSE: A-minus — The Lions gave up two long passes that set up two touchdowns in the first 20 minutes, but mostly locked down the Vikings after that. Glover Quin and Darius Slay both had interceptions, and the Lions sacked Teddy Bridgewater four times. Jason Jones had his best game as a pass rusher this season.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus – Minnesota’s Matt Asiata had success in the first quarter, but he finished with just 36 yards on 11 carries. The biggest breakdown for the Lions was giving up 30 rushing yards to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, which helped the Vikings finish with 76 yards on the ground.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus — The Lions benefited from three missed field goals from Blair Walsh, and Jason Jones blocking a 26-yarder in the fourth quarter was one of the highlights of the game. Matt Prater kicked three short field goals, but Sam Martin averaged just 44.3 yards per punt, including a 30-yarder before the Vikings’ final drive. The Lions also gave up a 35-yard punt return, and Jeremy Ross didn’t have much success in the return game.

–COACHING: A-minus — Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s adjustments helped keep the Lions in the game, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi didn’t call a great game, telegraphing several play calls. Jim Caldwell could have been more aggressive at times, but the Lions stayed focus even after hearing the Packers lost.


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