Detroit Lions Week 9 Game Ball: Matt Prater

Nov 6, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) kicks a field goal during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater (5) kicks a field goal during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Detroit Lions visited the Minnesota Vikings in week nine, several players stood out but it was Matt Prater who performed the best and took home this week’s DJC Game Ball.

After an overtime thriller, the Detroit Lions (5-4) are now entering their bye week with all nine games ending as one score games. They sure know how to keep their fans heart rates up. But, despite the pressure felt throughout the city of Detroit, there was a kicker in Minnesota wearing jersey number five in Honolulu blue, who calmly trotted out and made clutch field goals on his way to winning this weeks DJC Game Ball.

Matt Prater is Clutch

When the Lions opening drive stalled, Matt Prater hit a field goal from 47. At the end of the half when the Lions scored a touchdown, he confidently tacked on the extra point. This is not as easy as one would think: I’m looking at you Blair Walsh. In the 4th quarter he was called on again, this time from 53, and once again it was a no doubter. And finally, with seconds left on the clock and down three, Prater calmly trots out on the field and delivers once again.

Jim Caldwell: So…. uh… Matt. We’re going to need you to hit the second longest field goal in Lions history to tie this one, and it’s going to have to be on the fly because we’ve got no time-outs left.

Matt Prater: No Problem, fam

I’m pretty sure that’s how I saw it go down on the sidelines. And even if it didn’t, it shows Prater’s mental fortitude to shake off misses the last two weeks, and step up when his team needed him today. His 10 points were the difference.

Offensive Standouts

As impressive as Matthew Stafford‘s fourth quarter and overtime heroics were, his 17 play, 84 yard, 9 minute and 45 second drive, that resulted in a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin at the end of the first half was the most important. Ball control was an underrated part of todays victory.

Last week, Eric Ebron caught a career high seven receptions in a single game. This week, he matched that mark by catching another seven. But this time, his seven receptions came with 92 yards which is also a career high. I know there will always be Ebron haters, but it’s also time for people to recognize his value to the team. The last two weeks he’s been Matthew Stafford’s top target.

Golden Tate had seven reception for 23 yards before exploding late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. He finished the day with, 11 reception for 79 yards and the game winning score:

A year ago, Stafford was beat up and brutalized by the Minnesota front four. Today he was sacked once because of excellent coverage. Taylor Decker continues his outstanding rookie season and Graham Glasgow has impressed since he was named the starter. With Riley Reiff out with an illness, Corey Robinson got the start and played well. He has shown consistent improvement throughout the season and was valuable today in a spot start.

Defensive Standouts

Tahir Whitehead had his best game of the 2016 season today. His 12 tackles don’t do justice to how he seemed to be involved on every play. He is still struggling on coverage at times but when Teryl Austin is asking him to cover Stefan Diggs in the slot, he’s doing his best to prevent big plays. Every time he executed a tackle the ball carrier was stopped in his tracks. If DeAndre Levy returns after the bye, as expected, expect to see Whitehead’s game elevate even more.

Like Whitehead, Ziggy Ansah also had arguably his best game fo the season. Five tackles, one for loss and multiple pressures, including one that resulted in a sack. Ansah looks like he may finally be healthy.

Kerry Hyder registered another two sacks today giving him seven on the season. Teryl Austin has been knocked for his lack of creativity this season, but one of his shrewder moves has been utilizing Hyder as an undersized defensive tackle.

Josh Bynes looked improved after another week of practice. And, while he still has some glaring holes in his game, he made several key plays today.

Here’s a look at that fourth down stop:

Quick Hits

  • Tyrunn Walker had a blocked punt, a pass deflection and a quarterback hit today.
  • Sam Martin averaged 52.4 yards over his five punts.
  • The Lions turned the ball over at their own 18 and still forced the Vikings to punt.
  • On a final funny note, nice job by the fox research team here:

More from Detroit Jock City

Regular Season Game Ball Winners:

Week 1: Theo Riddick
Week 2: Devin Taylor
Week 3: Marvin Jones
Week 4: Andre Roberts
Week 5: Darius Slay
Week 6: Matthew Stafford
Week 7: Matthew Stafford… Again
Week 8: Theo Riddick

Preseason Game Ball Winners:
Week 1: Zach Zenner
Week 2: Tahr Whitehead
Week 3: Haloti Ngata
Week 4: Kerry Hyder