Lions Vs Cardinals Opens The 2017 Season With Another Comeback By Matt Stafford
While some were expecting a blowout for the Arizona Cardinals or a close game overall, both were wrong. The beginning of the game looked horrible for both teams, with each of the quarterbacks throwing interceptions, Stafford’s turning into a pick-six. The Lions defense surprised many by shutting down running back David Johnson and picking apart Carson Palmer. Stafford thought 2016 was fun with eight fourth quarter comebacks, so he decided to start 2017 with another, beating Arizona 35-23.
While Matt Stafford had a rough start to the game with a pick six, he was able to get back in rhythm and finished going 29/41 for 292 yards with four touchdowns and a pick. He was able to show his elusiveness by avoiding a sack and rush for a 15-yard play, extending the drive. Stafford had another fourth-quarter comeback as he looks to one-up himself and break the record he set last season.
Running the ball in Detroit is still a tough thing to do. Ameer Abdullah finished with 15 carries for 30 yards. Dwayne Washington had six carries for 22 yards, as Zach Zenner and Tion Green were inactive.
Golden Tate led the team in receiving with 10 catches for 107 yards, but he wasn’t able to score as that duty went to Marvin Jones, getting two catches for 37 yards and a touchdown on the six-yard pass from Stafford. Theo Riddick was next in catches with six for 27 yards and a touchdown. Ameer Abdullah had 11 yards on three catches, and making his 2017 debut, Eric Ebron, had two catches for nine yards, while rookie Kenny Golladay had four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. TJ Jones made some big catches too, getting two for 32 yards.
The offensive line that Bob Quinn tried to built still has some kinks to work out. TJ Lang was called for a holding penalty and the unit allowed a sack. Stafford was pressured at times and luckily a few times he was able to run away or throw the ball out of bounds.
The defensive line did what many thought they couldn’t do: stop David Johnson. They were able to hold the impressive back to only 28 yards on 11 carries. While the line wasn’t able to get any sacks, the line containing Johnson is a huge win, as the biggest weakness on this defense is the defensive line. Ziggy Ansah made his 2017 debut as well, only getting one tackle. The other main defensive lineman that impressed was Anthony Zettel, getting three tackles which were comprised of a sack and two tackles for loss.
Linebackers for Detroit did well at what they were asked to do. Rookie Jarrad Davis led the team in tackles with nine, and a fumble recovery, doing average in coverage. Tahir Whitehead had five tackles as well.
Interceptions were a common theme among the Lions’ secondary on Sunday. Tavon Wilson started the trend on the first defensive series. Glover Quin saw that interception and decided he wanted to join the club, picking off Carson Palmer in the second quarter. Quin finished with a team-leading five tackles, Wilson had three. Miles Killebrew also wanted love, as he got a pick-six on Carson Palmer in the fourth quarter to help secure the Lions’ lead. Darius Slay was quiet on the day, getting only one tackle and a pass deflection.
Special Teams had a wacky day. Kasey Redfern, the punter replacing injured Sam Martin, punted once for 50 yards, but on his second attempt he botched the snap and was forced to run the ball, gaining 11 yards and when he was tackled he was injured. So with both punters down, Matt Prater had to do it all and he did it well. He made a 58-yard field goal, and punted four times for 139 yards, landing once inside the 20. Dwayne Washington and Jamal Agnew took over the kick return duties, Washington had two returns for 31 yards, while Agnew had one for 18 yards. Agnew was the lone punt returner, getting three for 48 yards.
Week One: What It Means
Detroit now needs another punter. With Sam Martin on the NFI list, and Kasey Redfern being injured, Detroit won’t want to have Matt Prater do everything on special teams. The injury bug has already bitten the team, so hitting their backup plan isn’t a good thing for the punting game.
Taylor Decker not playing isn’t as bad we expected. While the running game wasn’t effective and Stafford got sacked once, facing pressure multiple times, things could be a lot worse without Decker. Greg Robinson has stepped up and done well with his chance.
The defensive line stopping David Johnson is a big win for the team. This showed that even against possibly the best running back in the league, they are able to make some big stops. This defensive line might not be as bad as we expected, but time will have to tell.
Week One: What To Think About
There were flashbacks to the days of Andre Roberts when the team was returning kicks, taking the ball deep in the end zone and not getting to the 25-yard line. This was a big problem for the team in 2016, and it isn’t a start that the team wanted in 2017.
Zach Zenner and Tion Green being both healthy inactive players means the team doesn’t want four running backs that could play. The reason being is Washington is a returner, but if he keeps struggling, maybe the team could sit him and put in Green or Zenner to help with the running game.