The Detroit Lions Got Their First Win Of The Season Tonight Against The New England Patriots.
The Detroit Lions came into this game with the Patriots as 7.5 point underdogs. They came into this game having lost their first two. The Lions needed to change the narrative on their season, and they needed to do it in a hurry.
In the first quarter of the game, Lions head coach Matt Patricia answered the most important question regarding this game. Would his knowledge of the Patriots players outweigh Bill Belichick’s knowledge of Patricia? The answer to begin the game was yes.
The Lions dominated play in the opening quarter. The team was on such a role offensively that when the Lions opening drive stalled, leaving them with fourth and inches, Patricia was booed for making the only sane decision to take the easy three points.
At the end of the first quarter, the Lions were winning the yardage battle 125 yards to five. The score was only 3-0, but it became 10-10 shortly into the second quarter. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay continued his campaign for Offensive Player of the Year with his second touchdown of the season.
In the second quarter, the Lions held the ball seemingly forever. After a second Prater field goal, 35 minutes into the game, the Lions were up 13-0 and the Patriots had run nine offensive plays. Unfortunately, Tom Brady cannot be contained forever. In the second quarter, Brady went 6-7 for 56 yards and got the Patriots on the board with a quick drive that ended in a field goal. The Lions had failed to make it a three-score game, and Brady brought his team within ten.
The first half ended with the Lions staring at the clock as it ran out on their drive. They ended with 81 first-half rushing yards, and 150 in the air.
Second half, unfortunately, did not begin in the same manner as the first, like it hasn’t for the Lions all season long.
Stafford made a terrible decision to sidearm a downfield pass to tight end Luke Willson, and Patriots linebacker Ju’Whaun Bentley was able to undercut the route and get the pick. Brady and co. marched downfield to bring the Patriots within three points.
The Lions embarked on another slow and plodding drive. After 40 minutes of play, they were dominating time of possession 28 minutes to 12. They had slowed the game down and kept Brady off the field for an eternity. They lulled the Patriots secondary to sleep and struck paydirt with a 33-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Marvin Jones. Stafford had been 0-5 up to that point in the season on deep balls to Jones.
The Lions had used the fact that the Patriots linebackers are slow and lumbering creatures to great effect in the first half. The Patriots began to leverage the Lions own coverage issues at the linebacker position to some effect, but Brady’s receivers let him down. Their final drive of the third quarter ended in three straight incomplete passes. The Lions were up 20-10 when the third quarter concluded and rolling forward down the field.
That drive stalled, but another Prater field goal. The Patriots opened the final quarter with another three and out that featured a rare intentional grounding penalty on a downfield throw. At the midpoint of the quarter, cornerback Darius Slay made a big play, picking off an errant Brady pass. The Lions defense exposed the lack of receiving talent around Brady all night. There was just never anywhere to go with the ball. The Patriots did not have a single pass play of over 20 yards to that point.
The Lions took advantage of a third and 18 to get Kerryon Johnson to the 100-yard mark. We can all thank the coaching staff, the offensive line, and of course Johnson himself for never having to hear about the streak again. The symbolic value aside though, the ten yards of field position was a better decision than forcing a deep ball. The Lions were up 13 with four minutes to play. There was no reason to force anything.
There was concern expressed as the game began that the Lions were going to be relying heavily on Eli Harold and Romeo Okwara for their pass rush. Harold responded to the challenge with a career game. He recorded both of the Lions sacks on the night. Okwara applied pressure but never got home. The secondary kept Brady from finding open targets, and the pass rush mopped up.
The Lions began the game with a standard four-man line, with A’Shawn Robinson and DeShawn Hand as their interior defensive line. The light seems to have come on for Robinson. He was a healthy scratch against the Jets, but a huge part of the Lions stingy defense tonight. Hand has been one of the most consistently good defensive linemen for the Lions during the first three games of the year.
The Lions gave up an incredible number of rushing yards with under two minutes to go. The true dominance of the defense is not reflected in the final numbers. The Lions had 25 first downs and allowed only 12. They won the yardage battle 414 to 209. Most importantly the Lions finally put away a very good team. They won in prime time against the AFC’s 2017 Superbowl representative.