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Week 15 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 10, Arizona Cardinals 38


Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, Pass: 24 - 50 - 246 - 0 TD / 3 INT

The Cardinals defense did not make things easy for Stafford and the passing game as they played well at home this week. Outside of his throws to Calvin Johnson, Stafford was just 14-of-33 for 125 yards. Even with Johnson's productive day against the generally tight coverage of Patrick Peterson, Stafford was one of this week's big disappointments at the quarterback position. The Lions offense totaled just 34 yards in the first quarter and even took a lead with an impressive 11-play touchdown drive early in the second quarter to go up 7-0. Stafford nearly lead another scoring drive in the second quarter, but penalties and missing open receivers plagued him. In the second quarter alone, Stafford had two ugly interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and the other inside the 5-yard line that staked Arizona to a 21-7 halftime advantage. Stafford stared down Tony Scheffler where the safety was able to break in front of the receiver and he overthrew Calvin Johnson on a double move on the two turnovers. It was apparent that Stafford was not comfortable throwing to targets other than Calvin Johnson throughout the game. He threw over the wrong shoulder to Tony Scheffler on a missed opportunity down the seam on one occasion and had some timing issues with Kris Durham as well. As the Lions trailed in the second half, they were prone to mistakes that killed their momentum on potential scoring drives. A rare gorgeous throw to an elevating Kris Durham in the end zone was wiped away with a delay of game penalty. The Lions' last attempt to get back into the game was thwarted by a horrible throw by Stafford at the goal line. It was between Scheffler running an out route and Durham on the fade route. The defensive back was the only player in the area playing the ball and took it the other way for a game-clinching touchdown return. Stafford was not able to benefit from garbage time in the closing minutes as the team punted with a little more than two minutes to play. In 11-of-14 games this season, Stafford has attempted 40+ passes and this was his lowest yardage total despite 50 passes. In addition, Stafford has thrown an interception in 10 games, including 8-of-10 since Detroit's bye week. The Falcons and Bears offer significant challenges despite both games being at home to close the season.

RB Mikel Leshoure, Rush: 14 - 55 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)

In a game that Detroit trailed for most of three quarters, Leshoure still amassed 16 touches and a decent fantasy day. In one of the rare highlights for the Lions offense, Leshoure capped off an 11-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge early in the second quarter. Leshoure found consistent running lanes inside, but playing catch-up translated to inconsistent usage from drive-to-drive. His vision was a plus as he found cutback lanes and used proper leverage for additional yards after contact. His day could have been over 100 rushing yards as he nearly broke a 70-yard touchdown run in the second half. Only a shoestring tackle in the secondary prevented an even longer gain on the play. He was targeted three times on screen passes, but with minimal success. Arizona read each well and limited Leshoure to short gains or a loss on those plays. Leshoure has averaged less than 4.0 yards-per-carry each of the last four games, but has made his fantasy living with his short-range touchdowns. He has seven touchdowns in the past seven games despite his lack of efficiency.

RB Joique Bell, Rush: 7 - 24 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (4 targets)

Despite playing from behind, Bell was not used as much as in previous weeks in that situation. Bell had a tougher day than Leshoure finding holes in the Arizona front seven as draw plays, other than in garbage time, did not fool any defender. Over half of his yardage came in the final drive of the first and second halves. In addition to dancing in the backfield on more than one occasion instead of getting what yards were available, Bell dropped one of his targets on the day.

RB Stefan Logan, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets)

The usual special teamer got some offensive snaps as Detroit trailed the entire second half this week. He showed his phone booth quickness on his two receptions, turning quick out routes into sizeable gains after the catch. He was able to accelerate to top speed instantly, once down the sidelines and the second into the red zone. His effectiveness could led to more opportunities in the closing weeks of the season as Detroit is thin at the receiver position, especially in the slot.

RB Kevin Smith, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)

Smith barely saw the field behind Leshoure and Bell and looked completely out of rhythm against Arizona. He surprised the defense on a screen play on third-and-long to get into field goal range in the first half, only to disappoint with his target later in the game. After drifting out into the flat, Smith actually finished his route out of bounds by the time Stafford targeted him. That blunder resulted in a missed third down and a Detroit punt.

WR Calvin Johnson, Rec: 10 - 121 - 0 (17 targets)

Johnson was the lone bright spot on the Detroit offense in Arizona, yet had his own blemishes in a matchup against Patrick Peterson and double coverage for a majority of the game. Defensive good backs tipped two of his first three targets with good plays on the ball. Johnson actually had a slow start to the game despite his finishing statistical line. Stafford missed Johnson on multiple occasions where he had separation, especially on a go route in the end zone. On another reception, Johnson was tackled at the 2-yard line, which was his best chance to score. Late in the game, Johnson accumulated nearly half of his yardage with a 30-yard gain after a broken tackle and a gorgeous over-the-shoulder throw and catch between he and Stafford. This week marked Johnson's third straight game of 10+ receptions and 110+ yards. Johnson leads the NFL in targets on the season and has a huge edge over any other receiver since Week 10 with 15.2 targets per game. He has a legitimate chance to break Jerry Rice's longstanding receiving yardage record this season with his likely usage over the final two weeks.

WR Mike Thomas, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0

Thomas was again minimally involved on offense with just a single rushing attempt, a reverse, that resulted in a minimal gain.

WR Brian Robiskie, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)

Robiskie received more playing time than usual with Detroit using many 4-receiver sets in catch-up mode. Both of his targets came in garbage time at the end of the fourth quarter. He caught a short crossing route, but then dropped a low pass on his final opportunity of the game.

WR Kris Durham, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (5 targets)

As the primary no.2 option with Titus Young and Ryan Broyles out, Durham lined up on the outside for a majority of his snaps. Out of 50 pass attempts for Stafford, only five came Durham's way. It was easy to see why as their timing was off and that resulted in just a single catch on the afternoon. Durham's lone catch was the only on-target pass he saw all day, which did happen at a crucial moment for Detroit. Stafford was fading back in the pocket and found Durham on a crossing route to convert a third down when the game was still within reach, trailing by just seven points. Durham has some intriguing size and ball skills, but his involvement on offense could be limited as Stafford favors Calvin Johnson on the outside or a tight end or running back on shorter routes.

TE Tony Scheffler, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (7 targets)

With Brandon Pettigrew out and the receiver position in flux, Scheffler was the de facto no.2 target in the passing game for Detroit against Arizona. He had seven targets and there were opportunities for a much bigger game than his 3/36/0 stat line. The most notable missed chance for Scheffler came on a seam route where he created yards of separation. Stafford's pass came in on the wrong shoulder, which caused Scheffler to awkwardly try to contort his body and make a play on the ball. He did not come up with the difficult, but hardly impossible play that was a minimum of 30 yards with the chance to be a long touchdown. Scheffler is an intriguing desperation play at tight end as long as Pettigrew is out as he can be a possession target as well as make receiver-like plays down the field. Stafford and Scheffler were not on the same play against Arizona, but have shown that chemistry in the past.

TE Will Heller, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets)

Heller was mainly a blocker on his snaps, but did corral two receptions in the pass game. Both were as an outlet receiver on third downs. Once he picked up a first down on an out route, the other coming up well short on a third-and-long play late in the third quarter.


Arizona Cardinals

QB Ryan Lindley, Pass: 14 - 21 - 104 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0

Lindley arguably had his best game this season against Detroit. He only had to throw 21 passes as Detroit shot themselves in the foot with four turnovers, but showed more skill as a game manager with just seven incompletions and one interception on the day. He was able to identify free rushers frequently and use his outlet receivers or short crossing routes to keep the chains moving. After his early interception, Lindley regrouped did not let the growing lead Arizona had by halftime disappear. Lindley did not make any spectacular throws, but found Fitzgerald, Roberts, and Floyd on short and intermediate routes when needed. The game plan shifted squarely to the running game as the lead expanded, which helped Lindley's efficiency and limited mistakes.

RB Chris Wells, Rush: 17 - 67 - 3

It was a classic Beanie Wells-type game against Detroit. He was a no-nonsense runner between the tackles with little creativity for additional yards and benefitted from sole ownership of the goal line duties and wearing down the defense at the end of the game. The bulk of Wells' fantasy production came on a 31-yard touchdown run to ice the game in the fourth quarter. He was able to get the corner as Detroit was sucked up inside and there was no one to stop him down the sidelines. Wells also benefitted from one of Detroit's four turnovers, setting the offense up at the 5-yard line. Wells pushed the pile for the touchdown on that drive. Also in typical fashion, Wells was absent from the passing game with zero targets.

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, Rush: 5 - 20 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets)

As Arizona led for most of the game and attempted just 21 passes, Stephens-Howling was not heavily involved at running back. On the ground, most of his production came on the first play of the game. He found daylight on a draw play and used his lateral explosion in the hole to gain 14 yards. In terms of running back skill on display, it was the highlight play for Arizona on the ground against Detroit. His other successful play on offense came on a little toss play on third-and-four. The offensive line was blown back from the line of scrimmage. Stephens-Howling broke tackles and wiggled his way close to the first down marker. Again, it was a display of his underrated ability as a Darren Sproles-like playmaker.

RB William Powell, Rush: 5 - 4 - 0

In mop up duty, Powell had three of his five carries in succession to run out the clock at the end of the game. He was stuffed on each occasion as Detroit sold out to stop the run. His best opportunity earlier in the game came when the offensive line blocked well at the point of attack, but Powell was tripped up making his way past the line of scrimmage.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Rec: 4 - 22 - 0 (5 targets)

Fitzgerald had a better game than in weeks past, especially considering that only 21 targets were available as a team in the passing game. He caught four of them and drew a questionable defensive pass interference penalty on another look. His downfield playmaking ability was not needed as Ryan Lindley looked for short and intermediate targets to supplement the run game. Fitzgerald's lone deep target was when he drew the interference penalty, which was a weak arm bar by the defensive back at best. Despite the call, Fitzgerald nearly came down with the acrobatic one-handed reception. It is tough to expect much more production than this game to close the season as the quarterback position and offensive line need to be upgraded in the offseason. Fitzgerald's five targets marked his lowest usage of the season and he has yet to score since the Cardinals' Week 10 bye week.

WR Andre Roberts, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (5 targets)

Roberts was the most targeted Arizona receiver on third down with four opportunities in the short passing game. Twice he was ability to convert for the first down, once he came up short of the marker, and another target looked to be dropped by Roberts on an out route. His ability to separate early on a pass route meshes well with Lindley as the rookie quarterback was looking to get the ball out of his hands quickly against Detroit's solid pass rush.

WR Michael Floyd, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)

The rookie receiver led the team with 37 receiving yards, which is impressive considering there were only 104 to go around against the Lions. He has yet to really flash first round talent this season and that was again the case this week. He did not gain yards after contact on his receiver screen or make any above-average plays on the ball on his other two receptions.

TE Rob Housler, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)

Housler made the most of his two targets, catching both on third-and-long situations. He gained yards after the catch, including a nice spin move away from the initial defender. His second reception moved Arizona into field goal range on a third-and-long situation that was unlikely to be converted.

TE Jeff King, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets)

King continues to see time along with Housler at tight end. The veteran was a safety value option on short targets. Lindley's biggest mistake came on an off-target pass to King in the first quarter. The throw was behind King, which was intercepted when the game was still very much in doubt. King was called for offensive pass interference to boot on the play.


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