Week 7 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 13, Cleveland Browns 10
What you need to know
The return of Jeff Garcia helped propel the Lions to a 3-3 record with a road victory, putting them in a tie atop the weakened NFC North. Garcia started the day slowly, but appeared to gain confidence as the day grew on, highlighted by a dive into the end zone on fourth and goal from the one yard where the play had broken down and he was forced to improvise. Garcia had a steady day passing the ball, completing 22 of 34 passes for 210 yards, and did not turn the ball over. The feared Detroit Lions receiving corps was again without two of their stars (Roy Williams and Charles Rogers), which left the passing game to primarily rookie Mike Williams and veteran Kevin Johnson. Mike Williams produced with five catches for 95 yards, but did lose a fumble at the end of the third quarter in a 10-10 game. On the other hand, Kevin Johnson was injured early in this game with a torn right achilles tendon, forcing the Lions to call upon second year wide receiver Scott Vines from Wyoming, who was the most targeted receiver, and finished the day with five catches for 34 yards.
The Lions made a significant effort to protect Garcia, and often kept the tight ends in for protection. Casey Fitzsimmons finished with two catches for ten yards and Marcus Pollard pulled in one ball for five yards. Garcia threw a significant number of passes to his guys out of the backfield, with 40% of his passes going to his halfbacks and fullbacks. Shawn Bryson led the group with four catches for 24 yards, while Artose Pinner had a 22 yard reception, followed by Kevin Jones and Cory Schlesinger with two receptions each for ten yards.
The Lions were committed to the running game, and were fairly successful in moving the chains. Kevin Jones received the bulk of the carries, and gained 74 yards on 21 attempts. Atrose Pinner finished with seven carries for 24 yards, but interestingly, was the running back on the final series when the Lions needed to gain a first down to prevent giving Cleveland the ball back, though the reason for this was not clear. Shawn Bryson was mixed into the game primary on passing downs, but got five carries for 20 yards.
Trent Dilfer played poorly in this game before the home crowd, throwing three interceptions, and failing to reach the one hundred yard mark in passing yards. Dilfer only attempted 19 passes in this game, primarily because the team was so inefficient in sustaining any drives, especially in the second half. The teams only score after the first drive field goal was a kickoff return for a touchdown. Dilfer’s ten completions went for just 73 yards, so this was not a good day for Browns’ wide receivers either. In his return from an elbow infection that had sidelined him, Braylon Edwards led the team with three catches for thirty yards. Antonio Bryant had a couple of receptions taken away due to offensive penalties, and only finished with one catch for fifteen yards as a result. Dennis Northcutt failed to catch a pass, and had the only pass targeted for him intercepted in the fourth quarter. No other Browns’ player gained over ten yards, though almost half of Dilfer’s passes went to the running backs and tight ends. Reuben Droughns caught two balls for nine yards, while Aaron Shea added a catch for nine yards and Steve Heiden two receptions for eight yards.
The Browns were committed to running the ball in this game, and looked quite proficient in it early, but saw this fade quickly. With a fast start, Reuben Droughns was able to reach the century mark on nineteen carries, but wasn’t able to move the chains in the third and fourth quarters in a tight game. The Browns have not utilized William Green in recent weeks, and this week was no exception, as Green received just carry, which he took for three yards.
What you ought to know
|QB Jeff Garcia, Pass: 22 - 34 - 210 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 1 - 1|
Garcia finished with an 81.7 passer rating, and won his first start as a Detroit Lion. He seemed to get better as the game went along, and showed some veteran leadership and the ability to make good things happen on the field, while not making poor decisions. Garcia averaged 6.2 yards per passing attempt and completed 65% of his balls, but his biggest play of the day came with his feet. On fourth and goal from the one, a play action pass was called, but no one was able to break open, at which point Garcia improvised and made a run around end to the right for the goal line, breaking through on a dive which barely crossed the plane. In addition to not turning the ball over, Garcia was not sacked once on the afternoon. This scrambling ability and improvisation helped create their biggest play of the day, a 49 yard pass to Mike Williams.
|RB Kevin Jones, Rush: 21 - 74 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (5 targets)|
Jones averaged 3.5 yards per carry in this game, but was not able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him. On the series which Garcia scored the touchdown, Jones had goal to go carries from the four, four and one on first through third downs, yet failed to score. The Lions requested a review of his third down play, however there was not conclusive evidence to support that he had scored.
|RB Shawn Bryson, Rush: 5 - 20 - 0, Rec: 4 - 24 - 0 (4 targets)|
Bryson continues to be utilized on passing downs, and usually picks up a few nice runs on draw plays as a result. Bryson got nine touches in this game for 44 yards, and helps to keep Kevin Jones fresh as the game goes on.
Pinner saw seven carries in this game, but none more important than the three which he received in the final 1:18 of the game when the Browns had three timeouts and the Lions pinned back in their own territory. It was Pinner in the game at this point, and he gained three, six and two yards to give the Lions the first down and to seal the victory.
With the absence of Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, Mike Williams has been asked to become the playmaker in the receiving corps, and responded in this game, nearly reaching the 100 yard mark, including a 49 yard catch at the end of the first quarter. Williams did, however, have a critical fumble in a game tied at 10-10, though the error did not cost his team the game on this day.
Vines, a second year wide receiver out of Wyoming was Garcia’s favorite target in this game, especially in the second half. Vines made the most of his playing time, though most of his catches were of the short, over the middle variety.
The thirty year old Johnson left this game with a torn right Achilles tendon, and as a result, will miss the season.
Jeff Garcia did not get his tight ends very involved in this game, as the game plan appeared to call for them to stay back in pass protection.
Hanson made field goals of 47 and 50 yards, and missed one from 47 yards. The missed field goal was a mishandled placement by the holder, and sailed wide right as a result.
The Browns broke off a couple of good runs to start the game off, but the Lions’ rush defense tightened up as the game went on, and as a result kept the Browns from getting past their opponents 45 after the first drive of the game, and forcing many three and outs throughout the game.
The secondary gave up just 73 yards, and came up with three interceptions and four sacks, limiting the Browns to just ten completed passes on the day.
|QB Trent Dilfer, Pass: 10 - 19 - 73 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0|
Dilfer compiled a passer rating of 22.4 by competing just 53% of his passes, with an average of just 3.8 yards per passing attempt. Of Dilfer’s three interceptions, two appeared to be his fault, with the second one intended for Aaron Shea tipped and intercepted. One would expect that Romeo Crenel will face much speculation regarding his starting quarterback moving forward.
A week after not rushing the ball at all in the first quarter, the Browns opened up the game on the ground and had their only successful offensive series of the afternoon. Droughns took the first five plays from scrimmage for 33 yards. On the second series, Droughns broke off a 31 yard run, and saw the Browns run the ball the first four plays of that series as well. Unfortunately, as the day went on, things got tougher, and Droughns gained only 17 yards in the second half on eight carries.
Green’s only carry of the day came on the play after Reuben Droughns had just gained 31 yards and was rotating out for a quick breather.
Edwards returned from his elbow infection and led the Browns in both catches and yards receiving. Unfortunately, this was just three catches for 30 yards, and like the rest of the Browns receivers was unable to get open with any regularity in time for Dilfer to deliver the ball to him.
Bryant finished the day with just one catch, but had two other catches taken away due to offensive penalties. Too often, Dilfer was looking to a well guarded Bryant, and the result of this was Dilfer’s first interception on the afternoon, where he was passing to Bryant for the third straight play.
Northcutt was not targeted until the fourth quarter, and only was targeted once in this game, the third interception on the afternoon for Trent Dilfer.
Heiden caught both passes intended for him for short gains.
The Lions brought a strong blitz against the Browns, which contributed to Shea only making his way out into pass coverage to catch one ball.
Dawson’s only field goal chance on the afternoon was a successful 30 yard field goal attempt.
The Browns were able to slow down Kevin Jones, but the combination of Jones, Pinner, Bryson and Garcia combined for 119 yards against them on 37 carries. The Lions dominated the time of possession in this game, and the ability to rotate in fresh backs kept the weary Browns from being able to stop them, especially when they most needed to be able to.
Though they did not allow a touchdown pass, the Browns failed to create any turnovers and did not get any sacks. They allowed one big passing play to Mike Williams, but were unable to slow down Jeff Garcia and the Detroit Lions, who passed for 210 yards on the day.