Last week was rough for the Detroit Lions. They lost at Lambeau yet again, and without Calvin Johnson their offense looked supremely poor. They were hoping to get back to their winning ways with another road game, this time in Cleveland. The Browns weren't expected to be that good this year, but they've been pretty strong so far, led by a tough defense. If the Lions were without Johnson again, their offense would likely struggle once more, perhaps even more than against the Packers. Fortunately for Detroit, Megatron was able to give it a go. Even if he wasn't 100%, at least his presence would make the Browns deal with him. Would that help give Detroit the win?
The Lions did strike first, as Joseph Fauria, getting added playing time due to Tony Scheffler's concussion, scored a 1-yard touchdown. Then, after a 45-yard reverse run by Travis Benjamin, making him Cleveland's leading rusher on the game, led to a touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Chris Ogbonnaya. The Browns then scored again late in the second half, with Weeden connecting with Greg Little. Somehow, the Browns managed to add a field goal late as well, and the Lions were down 17-7 at halftime. Apparently Johnson is not a magic totem that assures the Lions victories. Of course, that one season where they won zero games probably made that clear.
In the third quarter, Reggie Bush made a couple big plays, including turning a Stafford pass into an 18-yard touchdown. Detroit took the lead in the fourth quarter, with Stafford and Fauria connecting again, this time from 23 yards out. David Akers added a 51-yard field goal to make it a 24-17 game. Then, the Lions picked off Weeden, and they turned that into another touchdown, yet again provided by Fauria, who caught a 10-yard pass from Stafford. So, after a slow start, the second half was all Detroit, and the Lions won 31-17.
Well, while Johnson only had three catches for 25 yards, Detroit's offense was certainly better in this game. They scored 31 points against a very good Cleveland defense. Fauria only had three catches, but he turned them all into touchdowns. Kris Durham, who I have made jocular statements about in the past, had eight catches for 83 yards. Stafford went 25-for-43 for 248 yards with his four touchdowns, plus an interception, although that was on a tipped pass off of Patrick Edwards. Bush, after really struggling against the Packers, had a very good game. He had 17 rushes for 78 yards, and then he caught five passes for 57 yards. They also only let up one sack, a big improvement on last week.
Detroit's defense gave up a lot of yards, including to big play receiver Josh Gordon, but they held the Browns to a mere 17 points. They had two sacks, one from Willie Young and one from Devin Taylor, and they also had two interceptions. Both came from DeAndre Levy, who is having an excellent season.
Now, the Lions still remain atop the NFC North with a 4-2 record. They've secured a road win, and hopefully next week Megatron is feeling healthier. They've already won as many games as last year, and the NFC is starting to look really up in the air. This season could turn out quite well for Detroit. If they can play like this most weeks, I think it will. In the end, as long as Fauria eventually does "The Mario" as a touchdown dance, all will be well. Do it for Captain Lou Albano!