Every Monday during the regular season, the "Detroit Lions' Scorecard" will take a closer look at the on-field performance of an important positional group and rank their individual performances during the prior game.
Defensively, plenty went right for the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon and that was due in large part to stellar play from the front seven. The team held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing despite giving up 78 yards on the first play from scrimmage. The group also pressured Christian Ponder, and two of his three interceptions were a direct result of poor decisions under duress.
With seven tackles for loss, three sacks, six quarterback hits and plenty of other clutch tackles in space, Detroit's defensive line rose to the challenge at the perfect time, earning staunch praise from Peterson. Along the way, plenty of difference makers stood out, earning the team a solid "A" grade for their first game of 2013.
1. Nick Fairley, DT, A+. Perhaps Detroit's most active lineman, Fairley looked much improved against both the run and pass from the middle. He stuffed runs, disrupted Ponder's rhythm with 1.5 sacks and was a dominating force. Over the offseason, Fairley lost weight and became a gym rat. In the first game of the season, that extra effort showed.
2. Willie Young, DE, A. Quietly, Young played a fantastic game, drawing the start in place of the injured Ziggy Ansah, who came in later. There wasn't a drop off from one to the other, as Young played the run just as confidently as the pass with four tackles. He made a nice tackle for loss and generated a quarterback hit, showcasing his abilities as a rusher.
3. Ziggy Ansah, DE, B+. Ansah shook off the effects of his concussion fairly fast. Though he was offside, he registered an explosive hit on Ponder which nearly forced a fumble. Later, he did combine for a sack while holding up well in the running game. All in all, considering Detroit didn't know if Ansah could even play, it was a solid debut for the fifth overall pick in a reserve role.
4. Israel Idonije, DE/T, B. Idonije didn't see much time, but played well, leading Detroit's effort in slowing Peterson with two tackles. He played well when he was on the field and helped the Lions steady things from the reserve spot.
5. C.J Mosley, Justin Bannan, B-. Not much from these players, but Bannan nearly had a sack with good pressure on Ponder and Mosley filled in well collecting some tackles. Detroit has much better depth on the line this season with each of these veterans and Idonije, so the fact that their play was steady was not surprising and very important for the line's confidence.
6. Ndamukong Suh, DT, C. Despite a pass defended and some pressure on Ponder, Suh was surprisingly the weak link for the defensive line. He didn't register a tackle or a sack while collecting a terrible personal foul call for undercutting Vikings' center John Sullivan on DeAndre Levy's interception return. Suh will have to do more in the weeks ahead, but he got away with a lousy effort due to the play of his line mates.
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