The Detroit Lions visited the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the 2017 NFL playoffs, and while several players stood out, it was Taylor Decker who performed the best and took home this week’s Detroit Jock City Game Ball.
The Detroit Lions found themselves in the post-season for the second time in three years, looking for their first playoff win since 1992. But this Lions team just isn’t ready to compete with playoff level teams in the NFL. They competed hard tonight, but they made too many mistakes, and had too many calls go against them, to get a victory.
Game Ball: Taylor Decker
Taylor Decker has had an impressive rookie season. Tonight he had a daunting task, lining up against Seattle’s dominate front four and he confirmed why he was the right choice as the Lions first round pick in 2016.
Facing off against a combination of Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, Decker held them to four tackles combined. I wasn’t the only one who took notice of Decker’s performance tonight, former Lions offensive line Geoff Schwartz did too.
It’s difficult to gauge an offensive lineman’s performance during a live game, but Decker stood out for me tonight. Decker was once again asked to protect Stafford’s back and he did admirably. Stafford was sacked three times, but the pressures either came from the right side or was due to excellent coverage.
While he will probably get an official half sack given up in the last two minutes of the game, the Seahawks were dropping seven guys in coverage and the pressure was initiated from the right side and tracked over to Decker.
If there is a bright spot to take away from this game, it’s that the Lions have a stud left tackle of the future that they can build around.
Other Players Considered
Ziggy Ansah finally looked like himself tonight and registered nine tackles and two sacks, as well as five quarterback hits. Ansah has a difficult season because of injuries, but the Lions picked up Ansah’s team option for the 2017 season in the hopes he can return to this level of play.
For the third consecutive week, Zack Zenner seemed like he was the entire Lions offense in the first half. Yet, he disappeared in the second half once the Lions fell behind. I think the future is bright for Zenner, and I believe he has locked himself into the running back rotation next year.
Matt Prater kicked field goals from 51 and 53 tonight and is now nine for nine from 50 or beyond in the regular season and playoffs. Sam Martin played at an elite level once again, punting two of his five kicks inside the 20. How neither of these kickers made the NFL Pro Bowl is still a mystery to me.
- Matthew Stafford started his third playoff game tonight, which is tied for most by a Lions quarterback.
- Stafford set post-season record for the Lions in passing yards and completions (via Kyle Meinke on Twitter).
- Cornelius Lucas got his first start of the season tonight and had the best game of his career.
- This was the fourth time in six seasons, as a head coach, that Jim Caldwell has made the playoffs. It’s the second in three years with the Lions (via Kyle Meinke on Twitter).
Regular Season Game Ball Winners:
Week 1: Theo Riddick
2: Devin Taylor
3: Marvin Jones
4: Andre Roberts
5: Darius Slay
6: Matthew Stafford
7: Matthew Stafford
8: Theo Riddick
9: Matt Prater
11: The Safeties
12: Darius Slay
13: Golden Tate
14: Matthew Stafford
15: Golden Tate
16: Zach Zenner
17: Zach Zenner