Lions grades: The offense secures a victory once again, but the defense keeps showing weaknesses.

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It wasn’t always pretty. But the Detroit Lions (9-3) managed to protect their hot start in New Orleans, hanging on to win 33-28 over the Saints (5-7) for another victory away from home on their quest for the postseason.

This post will run through MLive Lions beat writer Ben Raven’s grades from the game.

Quarterbacks: Jared Goff wasn’t asked to do much in New Orleans. But when he was? Goff was crisp, poised, accurate and wise for feeding rookie Sam LaPorta’s hot hand. Goff finished 16 of 25 passing for 213 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions or fumbles lost.

And while those numbers won’t have people rushing to the MVP ballot to write Goff’s name. His throw on third down late in the game showcases his comfort level in this offense and with his pass-catchers. It was third-and-9 after the two-minute warning, with the Lions protecting their 33-28 lead near midfield. Goff rolled out from pressure, stepped up, took a shot and hit Josh Reynolds in stride for 14 yards to put this game on ice. Grade: B

Running backs: The Lions clearly wanted to re-establish their running game, leaning on the offensive line to open this game. They opened the game with a touchdown scoring drive featuring seven plays — six runs and only one pass.

David Montgomery remained tough to get to the ground, with those thighs churning on third down. Montgomery’s counting stats weren’t the prettiest, running 18 times for 56 yards and one touchdown. He caught one pass while losing a yard and dropped a third-down ball that could have let the Saints back into this game in the fourth quarter.

Jahmyr Gibbs was explosive in his eight attempts on the ground, hitting 60 yards with an impressive 36-yard dash to the pylon. He also caught only one pass while going in the wrong direction. Grade: B

Wide receivers: Thank goodness for Sam LaPorta in New Orleans; let’s just lead with that. Amon-Ra St. Brown was the team’s leading receiver, catching two passes on six targets for only 49 yards. St. Brown scored on a beautiful ball from Goff and crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season of his young career.

But, once again, it was a slightly concerning day for the rest of this group. Jameson Williams made a nice contested catch early. But that was the only target he drew, later adding a 19-yard touchdown run on the end-around reverse that you would miss if you blinked, so at least there’s that.

Reynolds made the clutch catch down the stretch. But he was held to less than 20 yards for the fifth straight game. Donovan Peoples-Jones failed to catch his lone target, and that was it for the wideouts. The Lions need more from this group. Grade: C+

Tight ends: Sam LaPorta is on track to have the best season a rookie tight end has ever enjoyed. He caught all nine passes sent his way for 140 yards and one touchdown. LaPorta was slippery after the catch, reliable in contested situations and the team’s go-to weapon for all 60 minutes.

There aren’t enough nice things I can write about LaPorta’s game and connection with Goff. It’s a dream situation for a team that traded T.J. Hockenson a little more than one year ago. LaPorta is already playing like one of the game’s best players at his position in Year 1. Grade: A+

Offensive line: Frank Ragnow’s knee injury is hanging over this franchise. It took a minute to get the All-Pro center off the field, and that’s saying something for one of the game’s toughest players. The Lions are optimistic it’s not as bad as it seemed when it happened. But it’s hard to imagine Ragnow not missing any time.

On the bright side, the Lions have Graham Glasgow, who has continued to be a home-run re-addition. Glasgow started at guard, then once again shifted to center like it was nothing. He led the way on Jameson Williams’ touchdown dash and was the anchor this team needed without Ragnow.






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