Matthew Stafford lived in Tim Tebow’s shadow during their college days when both were SEC East rivals. As Stafford’s Georgia Bulldogs finally beat Tebow’s Florida Gators on Saturday, Stafford continued the trend as he outplayed Tebow in Detroit’s 45-10 win over the Denver Broncos. Detroit’s defense sacked Tebow seven times and turned two turnovers into touchdowns as the Lions snapped a two game losing streak.
While Tebow was praised last week for his performance against Miami, Stafford was often criticized for his performance against both the 49ers and Falcons. But Stafford answered his critics by going 21 for 30 for 267 yards and 3 TDs – QB rating of 130.8. Tebow’s QB rating – a dismal 56.8.
The Lions looked like they might be in for a long afternoon during the Broncos first drive as Denver drove 64 yards down the field, but the Broncos settled for a field goal. The Lions answered back as WR Titus Young got behind a confused Broncos secondary and was wide open for 41 yard touchdown catch. The Lions defense made some key adjustments after the first drive as the Lions crowded the line to neutralize the Broncos running attack and forced Tebow to throw. The Lions also blitzed 55% of the time forcing Tebow to throw early as he never got into any rhythm.
Meanwhile, the Lions offense, which has struggled the last two weeks, found ways to move the ball at will as the Lions built a 24-3 halftime lead thanks to some find catches by former Bronco TE Tony Scheffler and RB Maurice Morris’s 1 yard touchdown run.
The Broncos did a good job containing WR Calvin Johnson in the first half thanks to All-Pro DB Champ Bailey play, but Stafford hooked up with Johnson on a 56 yard touchdown grab to take a 38-3 lead late in the third quarter. It was Johnson’s 11 TD catch of the season tying Randy Moss as the only wide receivers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to catch 11 TD passes in their team’s first 8 games.
For once since the Monday Night game against the Bears three weeks ago, the Lions were having fun and looked like a team that might be headed to the playoffs. They even poked fun of the ‘Tebowing’ craze as a couple of Lion players struck the Tebow pose during key plays.
The Lions go into the bye week 6-2 and gained back some confidence lost during their 2 game losing streak. Interestingly, the Lions were 6-2 four years ago after dismantling the Broncos. Unfortunately, they went 1-7 the rest of the season. And if that was not bad enough, they went 0-16 the following season. But this is a different Lions team than in 2007 with offensive weapons and a dominating defense line.
One more interesting tidbit, the Lions recorded their 4th road win of the season on Sunday. Going back to last season, they have now won 6 straight road games. This after snapping a NFL record 26 road game losing streak.
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Written by Bob Ballard