Almost a good day

9:13 PM 26 Aug 2012

When I wrote about what to watch for in Lions @ Raiders game, I had a good idea that Ronnell Lewis would show something on special teams. I wasn’t disappointed.

Ronnell Lewis made a nice stop on a return, cleared a lane for a long return by Justin Miller, and had a solid game. Almost.

I was excited to see what Mikel Leshoure would bring to the field, but tried to temper that excitement with the knowledge that he hadn’t played in over a year and this would be his first carries in the NFL.

Believe it or not, I can’t say I was disappointed. Leshoure ran with power when he got the ball, and showed the ability to make the first guy miss. He also showed good body control and hands on a pass that was behind him, spinning around to make the catch and finishing the 360 move to continue running, all in one fluid motion.

I didn’t see Leshoure display the ability to cut back inside the tackle when he was going outside, even though it was there twice. His vision isn’t there yet. Leshoure also looked indecisive when he got the ball, shuffling his feet before deciding on a path.

Having said all that, the offensive line couldn’t open any holes that an ant could get through, let alone a running back. The run blocking was just plain bad, and I don’t think it mattered that much who carried the ball for the Lions yesterday, they were on their own.

With some time and more carries, I would expect Leshoure to be a more complete runner, he looks the part, and it was nice to know he is healthy enough to get some carries.

Leshoure did miss a cut block on the play that gave a Raider a clear path to Matthew Stafford, and that was the play Stafford was injured on. At this point, it might be a slight sprain or bruise, and Stafford is expected to be fine.

Stafford looked good when he was in there, spreading the ball around and leading the Lions to a field goal on the first drive of the game. He went 8 for 10, and was what I expected to see, right up until he got hit and Jim Schwartz yanked him from the game. Had this been a regular season game, anyone who remembers what Stafford did to the Browns his rookie year knows he probably would have stayed in.

The special teams showed up big, and were a bright spot for the Lions in Oakland. Justin Miller had a big return, and Reshard Langford made two big stops, one on punt coverage and one on kick return coverage.

I was interested to see what Patrick Edwards would bring to the table returning punts, but I was not impressed. Edwards called a fair catch on a punt at the five when he should have backed off and let it go, either for a touch-back, or if the ball bounced the other way, better field position. Rookie mistake, I thought, until I saw Edwards drop a punt. He isn’t the guy, and didn’t help his chances of making the roster at all last night.

Kevin Smith, what the heck is going on with you and that ankle? He has a week, and at this point, if he limps off again, he would be one of my final cuts. The guy has star potential, just can’t stay on the field.

English: Mila Kunis attending the Premiere of ...

English: Mila Kunis attending the Premiere of “Max Payne” Hollywood, CA 10/13/2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Mila Kunis attending the Premiere of “Max Payne” Hollywood, CA 10/13/2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shaun Hill just flat out looked bad. We know he will be fine down the road, but on one play with Ryan Broyles in motion, the Raiders brought 8 up into the box. I swear I watched Hill check out of the called play, and into a run. Maybe Hill just thought the Raiders were showing run defense and would drop back into coverage, I just don’t know, but the play went about as far as I would with Mila Kunis.

Hill did end up getting it together long enough to throw a touchdown to Brandon Pettigrew, who had a solid night.

Enter Kellen Moore, and I was once again anxious to see if he could show more improvement from the week before, and after that horrid start to the preseason.

Moore came out and hit a few throws, and I was surprised at how hard the ball was being thrown. Maybe he had an arm after all?

Not so much, as he began throwing pass after pass into the Raiders defensive line. Moore was trying to put too much on the ball, and throwing flat passes. Too flat.

Moore did throw a touchdown pass to Alex Gottlieb, and the Lions never did give up.

Alphonso Smith struggled in coverage, until he jumped in front of the receiver and picked one off!!

I yelled YES!! near the top of my voice. The television remained impartial and immobile, while my dog found a secure hiding spot.  THAT was the play, at 12:35 in the fourth quarter, trailing 17-13, that would turn this game around. That was the moment.

Then I heard penalty, and the game slid away, back into the dark recesses of loss and despair. Ronnell Lewis, at defensive end and on a bull rush, had been called for hands to the face, a ten yard penalty that gave the Raiders an automatic first down and erased the interception by Alphonso Smith.

Two plays later, with Alphonso Smith in coverage, Juron Criner caught a long touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor. Smith never got his head around to locate the ball and was called for pass interference on the score.

Keep these handy during the season

Ronnell Lewis was yanked from the game after that penalty, and all the good he had done earlier in the game seemed to slide out the window. If Lewis hadn’t drawn that flag, this probably would read much differently.

The Raiders went on to win by a final of 31-20.

Yeah, my head hurts, and it was almost a good day.

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