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Week 14 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 17, Arizona Cardinals 3


What you need to know

Detroit Lions

Detroit’s offense struggled in a win at Arizona. While Detroit scored two touchdowns, one was an interception returned for a score, which gave Detroit a lead against a Cardinals offense that struggled mightily. Detroit scored a 4th quarter rushing touchdown that finished a Zach Zenner led scoring drive, but otherwise struggled to move the ball with any regularity. Without Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kerryon Johnson, Detroit has limited weapons to move the ball.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals mired to another loss and this week to fellow low-level offense in the Lions. Larry Fitzgerald was hounded by bracket coverage until garbage time but did pass Jerry Rice for the all-time receptions record in NFL history. Trent Sherfield emerged as the secondary option with Christian Kirk to injured reserve. David Johnson saw a hearty 23 touches but managed a rarified air of inefficiency as a receiver with 8-12-0 on a team-high 10 targets. Arizona struggles to keep up with any opponent and gets the Falcons and Rams the next two weeks.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 23 - 101 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
Matthew Stafford struggled to create any passing threat in a win against the Arizona Cardinals. Stafford has struggled without Marvin Jones, Kerryon Johnson, and Golden Tate, and Sunday was no different. His threats are limited to short targets to Theo Riddick, Bruce Ellington, and occasional schemed up targets to Kenny Golladay. There is little vertical eliminate in the passing game, with the only deep target a tightly covered throw to Golladay which drew a pass interference. Stafford was only sacked once on interior pressure from a coverage sack. Stafford has struggled with accuracy at times this season, but his recent struggles and Sunday can be attributed to a lack of offensive weapons. Stafford will look to improve next week in a tough matchup at Buffalo.

RB LeGarrette Blount, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets)
LeGarrette Blount started against the Arizona Cardinals with Kerryon Johnson missing another game with an injury. Blount performed well early, getting to the edge for a chunk gain and running with interior power. Blount also caught a pass which he then fumbled and was recovered by Arizona. He did not lose time immediately afterwards, as he continued to run as the lead back into the second half, before ceding time to Zach Zenner who closed the game out, including a goal line touchdown. Blount faces a threat to his usage from the return of Kerryon Johnson and the emergence of Zach Zenner. Both will be a key to monitor before Blount takes on Buffalo next week.

RB Zach Zenner, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 54 - 1
Zach Zenner opened the game spelling LeGarrette Blount with success on the second series of the game. Zenner had success early but saw an expanded role in the fourth quarter as Detroit was killing the clock. Zenner carried the ball on 7 of the 8 snaps on the final scoring drives while Detroit was attempting to salt away the game and ultimately scored a goal line touchdown. The increased usage is notable as Blount was the primary running back with Kerryon Johnson out of the lineup. The injury status of Johnson and Blount’s role are keys to monitor during the week.

RB Theo Riddick, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 28 - 0, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (4 targets)
Theo Riddick had a good game against Arizona. The good news was Riddick led the team in receiving. The bad news was he only had 4 catches for 30 yards. Riddick’s passing game work came out of the backfield more this week than in prior weeks when he lined up in the slot. He was also effective in the running game out of the shotgun where he had good runways on his 6 carries. Riddick will face Buffalo next week.

WR Bruce Ellington, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)
Bruce Ellington continued to see a volume role in Detroit’s passing game against Arizona. Ellington was a favorite of Matthew Stafford on third down early in the game including a conversion, but his targets are all close to the line of scrimmage. Like the rest of the offense, Ellington had no down the field threat. Ellington will look to improve next week against Buffalo.

WR Kenny Golladay, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (4 targets)
Kenny Golladay had a bad game against the Arizona Cardinals. Golladay had two early catches, a quick route into the flat and a short route but disappeared after that. Golladay’s only involvement afterwards was a deep target where he drew a defensive pass interference. He was matched up at times with Patrick Peterson but did not get full shadow coverage. Golladay has struggled to separate all season when not schemed open and Sunday was no different. He will face a tough matchup next week against Buffalo.


Arizona Cardinals

QB Josh Rosen, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 41 - 240 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0
Rosen has little with which to work in the passing game and Detroit took away Larry Fitzgerald for much of this week’s game with double coverage. Rosen struggled mightily on obvious passing situations, especially third down, with two critical sacks and being late on a deep out route resulting in a pick-six interception. Rosen dealt with small windows overall as his receivers struggle to separate overall and Arizona’s offensive line is average on their best days. Atlanta offers a better matchup for Rosen next week but Arizona has a mere 10 passing touchdowns over Rosen’s 10 starts during his rookie season.

RB David Johnson, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 49 - 0, Rec: 8 - 12 - 0 (10 targets)
Volume was not an issue for Johnson against Detroit as the workhorse running back saw 23 touches. However, yards were fleeting as Arizona’s passing game did little to threaten Detroit deep and keep defenders out of the box. Johnson gained 29 rushing yards (of his 49 overall) on his three best runs, including a give-up carry to close the first half. Johnson exhibited quality power, balance after contact, and the ability to get skinny through a line-of-scrimmage hole. Johnson had an even more difficult time as a receiver. Outside of a slant reception as a split-out receiver, Johnson was stuffed on screen opportunities and dropped a routine pass. Johnson’s lone scoring opportunity was a swing route reception in the red zone but was stopped before the goal line. With Arizona’s offense providing few scoring drives, Johnson has one rushing touchdown over the past seven games.

RB Chase Edmonds, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0
Edmonds saw three carries against Detroit but fumbled on two of them. Fortunately, Arizona recovered both of them including one in the red zone. Edmonds has been used a fair amount in the red zone despite David Johnson being the clear starter. Edmonds would be a high-volume option if Johnson were to miss time but has yet to see more than eight touches in a game this season otherwise.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 55 - 0 (9 targets)
Fitzgerald broke Jerry Rice’s NFL record for most receptions. However, Fitzgerald was hounded by Detroit’s bracket coverage to an invisible first half before setting the record in the mid-third quarter. Fitzgerald collected much of his production in clear garbage time with the Lions’ win clearly in hand late in the game. Fitzgerald had a nice catch on a throw behind him and his notable scoring opportunity was a back shoulder end zone target which was incomplete. Fitzgerald was already the focal point of defenses’ coverage before Christian Kirk’s injury but was even more so this week against the Lions. Fitzgerald’s 55 yards was his highest totals since Week 8 and third-highest of the season for what has been a lost year for Arizona.

WR Trent Sherfield, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 77 - 0 (7 targets)
With Christian Kirk to injured reserve, Sherfield filled the void as the secondary receiver to Larry Fitzgerald against the Lions. Sherfield was the highlight player for Arizona in the loss with a collection of strong plays from a sliding reception to a highly-contested grab, and drawing a deep pass interference penalty. It was a career day for the undrafted receiver out of Vanderbilt, seeing more targets and receptions this week than the rest of the season combined.