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Week 16 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 17, Cincinnati Bengals 26


What you need to know

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions struggled against Cincinnati, as the offensive line was missing multiple injured players and struggled to create running room. Matthew Stafford was erratic particularly in the middle of the field, and only had one deep completion on a corner route to Marvin Jones. Eric Ebron continued his recent strong play and the offense attempted to manufacture touches for rookie Kenny Golladay.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon left early in the first quarter with an ankle injury, which left Giovani Bernard as the lead back the rest of the way. Behind a shuffled offensive line missing multiple starters, Bernard had a monster game on 30 touches. He racked up yardage throughout and finished off the Lions with a late touchdown run. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green had up-and-down games but made just enough plays to get the win.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 35 - 203 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
Matthew Stafford struggled in a crucial game against Cincinnati. Stafford was erratic throwing, missing targets to Golden Tate and Eric Ebron in the middle of the field, and threw a bad interception in the middle of the field. His interception occurred when he was hit while throwing but there was no receiver near the defender on the play. Stafford was limited in the vertical passing game, with his lone success coming on a perimeter throw to Marvin Jones. Despite some erratic throws, the day should have been better for Stafford. Marvin Jones drew a defensive pass interference on a deep target and Kenny Golladay could not make a catch in contested coverage on a well throw ball. Stafford was also hurt by what appeared to be a bad call on a deep throw to Golden Tate. Tate made what appeared to be a catch in contested coverage but the ball was forced out of his hands when he was on the ground. The officials ruled an incomplete pass and Detroit missed what looked like a good opportunity to challenge the call. Stafford also continued a long trend of bogging down in the red zone, hurt by receivers were unable to create separation in the game. Stafford appeared hobbled when forced to scramble and appeared to be in back pain after a hit, but did not miss any time during the game.

RB Theo Riddick, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 16 - 0, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Theo Riddick started the game against the Cincinnati Bengals but was hurt by the offensive line which created little room for Riddick to run. Riddick lost work to Tion Green in the red zone, and Ameer Abdullah in the second half, but neither had more success outside of Greenís touchdown. Riddick was held in check in the passing game outside of a garbage time catch and run where he broke a tackle for 14 yards.

RB Ameer Abdullah, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 21 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets)
Ameer Abdullah was the third back in the game behind both Theo Riddick and Tion Green. Abdullah showed more burst than he has in recent weeks, but was largely limited to little running room. Abdullah saw expanded usage in the second half as a runner in the second half. He also handled the kickoff duties, and Detroit tried to get him the ball on a wheel route, but he never got separation on.

RB Tion Green, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 43 - 1
Tion Green continued to see usage in the Detroit offense, operating as the short yardage and goal line back. Green had key third and fourth down conversions and had a goal line rushing touchdown. Green runs hard, but does not have good vision running between the tackles where he ran into his linemen multiple times.

WR Kenny Golladay, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 28 - 0 (8 targets)
Kenny Golladay tied for the team high in targets with eight, in a game where Detroit tried to manufacture ways to get him the ball. He was used on misdirection plays when he was in motion and on a shovel pass. When Golladay was split out wide, he was used on slants and in breaking routes. He had a deep target in a one on one situation where he struggled to elevate for the ball. He was also targeted as a secondary read in the end zone where the ball was broken up on an in route.

WR Golden Tate, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (6 targets)
Golden Tate struggled against Cincinnati. He had a good run after the catch on an early screen, but the rest of the day was limited. Stafford missed Tate on a crossing route and later threw a deep prayer to Tate in contested coverage. Tate jumped to catch the pass and took it to the ground and appeared to be down by contact, but the ball was then knocked out of his hands. The play was ruled incomplete and appeared to be a missed opportunity for Detroit to challenge the call.

WR Marvin Jones, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 50 - 0 (5 targets)
Marvin Jones was underwhelming against the Bengals. He had a bad drop on a curl route on a third down which forced Detroit to kick a long field goal which was missed. His highlight was a corner route from the slot where he caught the ball in contested coverage. He also drew a defensive pass interference on a deep perimeter route. Jones was the primary target in the offense for a solid stretch of the season, but has been capped by the development of Eric Ebron and Detroit trying to manufacture touches for Kenny Golladay.

TE Eric Ebron, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 83 - 1 (8 targets)
Eric Ebron continued his recent stretch of strong play. Ebron made catches in tight areas and ran well after the catch. He was moved around the formation, including split to the perimeter of the formation. Ebron was targeted in man coverage while split out wide, and won on a go route against a linebacker for his touchdown. Ebron has been playing significantly better over the past month after struggling mightily early in the season.


Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 86 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 41 - 238 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -1 - 0
Dalton got off to a slow start, in part due to some drops. He also threw a terrible interception early when he sailed the ball well over A.J. Greenís head and into the chest of a safety. Much of the passing success came on screen passes and short outs to the running backs, who combined for 11 receptions and over 100 receiving yards. Daltonís lone touchdown came on a 1-yard touchdown pass to the backup tight end off of a play action fake.

RB Giovani Bernard, 72 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 116 - 1, Rec: 7 - 52 - 0 (7 targets)
When Mixon had to leave early, Bernard stepped into the role of lead back and had a monster game game. Bernard had 30 touches and made an impact as both a runner and receiver. He picked up a pair of 3rd-and-1 conversions on tough runs up the middle early. Bernardís receptions came in bunches, with four on a single 1-minute drive before halftime that setup a field goal. Early in the second half, Bernard made a nice move after a catching a short pass over the middle to spin by a tackler and get it down to the Detroit 7-yard line. The highlight of the day for Bernard came on a 10-yard reception. It looked like Dalton hung him out to dry but Bernard spun through a big hit, accelerated upfield and spun through a second tackle attempt as well to pick up 10 yards. Bernard also had a huge run in the final two minutes to put the game away. Facing 3rd-and-6 from the 12-yard line, Bernard found the middle stacked up and bounced it outside. He was able to get to the corner and into the end zone for a 12-yard score.

RB Joe Mixon, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 12 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)
Mixon was off to a fast start and looked to be headed toward a big game with 32 yards in the first six minutes. However, he suffered an ankle less than halfway through the first quarter and near returned.

RB Brian Hill, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 34 - 0 (1 targets)
When Joe Mixon left early with an injury, Hill received some chances as the primary backup to Giovani Bernard. He broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and rumbled for 12 yards on his first carry of the game. Made an awkward looking catch on a short out route but was able to keep his feet and accelerate through traffic for a 34-yard gain.

WR A.J. Green, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 81 - 0 (10 targets)
Green had a rough start to the game. He got deep behind Darius Slay and had the ball hit him in the facemask. He also was called for an offensive pass interference penalty against Slay that brought back a long reception down the sideline. Green dominated the matchup in the second half, however. He caught a short pass and made Slay miss with a spin move to get by for a long gain. He also got inside of Slay on a slant for a nice gain and picked up a key third down on a short completion along the sideline.

WR Tyler Boyd, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 39 - 0 (6 targets)
After being a healthy scratch multiple times in recent weeks, Boyd was back in the lineup and made an impact. He was targeted deep down the seam on an early third down and dropped what would have been a moderately difficult catch. He made some key catches as the game went on though, including a 3rd-and-long catch where he found a soft spot in the zone. Boyd also nearly scored on a 6-yard reception. He dove to extend the ball toward the pylon but came up a yard short.

WR Brandon LaFell, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 8 - 0 (6 targets)
LaFell was mostly targeted on short passes, including a failed screen attempt and a shovel pass that was blown up for a loss. LaFell did draw a 24-yard pass interference penalty on a deep pass down the seam.

TE C.J. Uzomah, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 1 (1 targets)
The backup tight end went up to catch a 1-yard touchdown pass off of a well-designed play action fake.

TE Tyler Kroft, 86 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (5 targets)
Dalton missed Kroft twice on an early drive. Both throws sailed high. The first would have gone for a long gain and the second miss was over Kroftís head in the end zone on what could have been a 13-yard touchdown. Kroft had a bad drop on a short pass underneath.