The Lions Beat The Cardinals 35-23. Here’s How It Happened.
The Cardinals started out the game with the ball. They were able to convert a third down on their first set of downs of the game, but two plays later Carson Palmer threw an interception to Lions’ safety Tavon Wilson. Wilson returned the ball to the Cardinals 26 yard line, setting up the Lions offense very nicely.
On the Lions’ first play of the game, Ameer Abdullah ran the ball for five yards. On their second play, Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Arizona cornerback Justin Bethel, who returned the pick 82 yards for a touchdown.
Detroit was unable to get anything going on the next possession, and had to punt after a three and out. The same was true with Arizona on their next possession, as they only gained nine yards on three plays.
The Lions next possession was derailed by a sack and a penalty – Matthew Stafford was sacked on the first play of the drive and called for intentional grounding two plays later.
This led to Kasey Redfern having to attempt a punt from his own end zone. This went horribly wrong however, as Redfern dropped the snap and attempted to run with the ball. Redfern was hit hard several yards short of the first down, giving Arizona the ball in great field position.
The Cardinals started their next drive with the ball at the Lions’ 13 yard line. They were unable to move the ball and were forced to attempt a field goal. However, a penalty on the Lions’ special teams gave Arizona a first down, so their drive continued. They again were unable to gain any yardage though, and did settle for a field goal, giving Arizona a 10-0 advantage.
The Lions were able to pick up one first down on the following possession, and then the first quarter ended.
Cardinals lead 10-0
The Lions started out the second quarter on the right track, as Matthew Stafford threw an 18 yard pass to Golden Tate on the first play. The drive then stalled though, as they were unable to pick up another first down and had to punt.
The first Cardinal drive of the second quarter looked promising as Larry Fitzgerald made a 33 yard reception to convert a 3rd and 7. A holding penalty backed them up though, and on 2nd and 25, Carson Palmer threw his second interception of the game, this one to Glover Quin.
The Lions put together their best drive of the game to that point following the Cardinals second turnover, as they converted three third downs and the possession ended with Matthew Stafford throwing a six yard touchdown to Marvin Jones. A botched hold on the PAT led to a 10-6 score.
Both teams then exchanged punts.
With 1:53 left in the first half, Arizona put together their best drive of the first half, as Carson Palmer moved them 56 yards in 11 plays. The Lions defense tightened up near their own end zone though, and veteran kicker Phil Dawson came out to attempt a 32 yard field. He missed though, giving the Lions the ball back with 44 seconds remaining.
Stafford then moved the Lions 38 yards in eight plays to set up a 58 yard Matt Prater field goal before time ran out in the first half.
Cardinals lead 10-9
Detroit received the ball to start the second half and showed promise on their first drive, converting a third and six with an 11 yard pass to Golden Tate. The drive stalled after that, and the Lions had to punt.
Arizona started the second half backed up at their own six yard line. Despite this, their offense orchestrated a long 12 play 94 yard drive that ended with a three yard touchdown run from Kerwynn Williams, furthering the Cardinals advantage to 17-9. David Johnson totaled 51 combined rushing and receiving yards on the drive.
Detroit picked up a big first down to start their ensuing possession with a 31 yard Marvin Jones reception, but they couldn’t pick up another first down and had to punt.
The Cardinals next possession lasted only one play as David Johnson fumbled and the Lions recovered. This would be the last play of the game for David Johnson.
The Lions were able to capitalize on this as running back Theo Riddick caught a seven yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford. A failed two point conversion attempt from the Lions made the score 17-15.
Arizona picked up a first down on their next drive after converting a third and one, and then the third quarter ended.
Cardinals lead 17-15
The Lions proceeded to have their best offensive drive of the game. Matthew Stafford completed five of six passes including a 10 yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay, giving the Lions their first lead of the game. Another failed two point conversion attempt made the score 21-17.
An offensive pass interference penalty derailed the next Arizona possession, and they had to punt to the Lions.
Detroit struck quick on the next possession, as Stafford threw a 14 yard pass to Golden Tate and then a 45 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay. The Lions rookie receiver got open deep, and it gave the Lions an 11 point lead with four minutes remaining in the game.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Carson Palmer threw his third interception of the game to Lions safety Miles Killebrew. Killebrew easily returned the interception for a touchdown, giving the Lions a 35-17 lead with 4:03 left in the game.
Arizona went on a long, 75 yard possession after the turnover that ended with an irrelevant Carson Palmer touchdown pass to JJ Nelson. The Lions got the ball back after the touchdown and were able to kneel on the ball, ending the game.
Lions win 35-23
Matthew Stafford completed 29 of 41 passes for 292 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 113.1 passer rating
After starting the game slow, Stafford caught fire in the second quarter and finished the game with four touchdowns. He showed great resiliency as he bounced back from an early interception and led the Lions to a comeback win.
Carson Palmer completed 27 of 48 passes for 269 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions and a 53.2 passer rating
Carson Palmer looked off for much of the game. He threw three interceptions including one on the first possession of the game. He missed relatively routine throws. It remains to be seen whether this was more of a bad performance from him or a good one from the Lions defense.
David Johnson had just 23 yards on 11 rushing attempts and fumbled twice
You have to think that going into this game the emphasis for the Lions defense was on stopping David Johnson, and they did just that. Johnson averaged just over two yards per carry and the Lions defense was able to make him fumble twice, while recovering one of them.
The Lions allowed only one sack
One of the biggest storylines for the Lions all summer was how would they replace injured left tackle Taylor Decker. Greg Robinson started at that position for the Lions on Sunday, and although he did allow one sack, he looked good for the most part.
The Lions won the turnover battle 4:1
Turnovers are one of the biggest indicators about how likely you are to win or lose in football. The Lions defense did a fantastic job as they forced four turnovers on Sunday, and the offense did a relatively good job, surrendering the ball just once.
Detroit possessed the ball for 33:20, Arizona only did for 26:40
The Lions were able to control the time of possession in this game, especially in the second and fourth quarters.
The Lions converted 8 of 16 third downs
Converting half of your third down attempts is a really good rate, and the Lions did just that on Sunday. If they can continue to convert third downs like this, their offense should be able to put together many long drives this season.
The Lions ran the ball 27 times
Although Detroit didn’t have a ton of success running the ball (they only had 82 rushing yards), they did not abandon the run in this game, even when they were losing. This balanced attack helped the offense to score in the second half.
Detroit committed 10 penalties for 100 yards
The biggest negative takeaway from this game in regards to the Lions was penalties. They committed 10 of them and it cost the team 100 yards. This needs to be straightened out or it could cost the team games in the future.
Plays That Made The Game
Tavon Wilson’s interception on the opening drive of the game set the Lions offense up in great starting field position. On 3rd down and 12, Palmer threw the ball right to Wilson; there was no other player even in the vicinity. Wilson did a great job of capitalizing on this errant pass and got the Lions defense off to a great start in 2017.
Justin Bethel’s 82 yard interception return was one of the key moments in the game. Stafford’s pass was intended for Golden Tate, but Josh Bynes, a Cardinals linebacker, did a great job of throwing Tate off of his route. Because of this, the pass was right to Justin Bethel instead of Tate and he was able to return the ball all the way for a touchdown. This was the worst possible start for the Lions offense.
Glover Quin’s interception was Carson Palmer’s second turnover of the first half. Palmer overthrew receiver John Brown and the ball landed right in Quin’s hands. Quin then did a good job of running with it and setting up the offense in good starting field position.
Matthew Stafford’s 15 yard scramble was the longest rush by the Lions in the entire game. On 3rd down and 12, Stafford did a fantastic job of eluding pressure with a spin move, and then had lots of open field in front of him. He picked up the first down and a few more yards by falling forward at the end.
Marvin Jones’ six yard touchdown reception was the first points the Lions scored in the 2017 season. Stafford again does a great job of scrambling here, and his offensive line did a great job of setting up blocks that made the scrambling possible. Stafford then found Marvin Jones on the left side of the end zone for a touchdown.
Matt Prater’s 58 yard field goal was huge because it kept the game close, making the score 10-9 at halftime. Jake Rudock, who had never held before in an NFL game, was the holder on this play. Rudock managed to do a good enough job that Prater could accurately make the field goal from 58.
David Johnson’s 24 yard reception was one of the biggest plays for Arizona all day. On 2nd and 20, Palmer threw deep to Johnson, he made a tough catch between three Lions defenders. This reception set up a 3 yard rushing touchdown for the Cardinals. Johnson was also hurt on this play, and left the game shortly afterward.
David Johnson’s fumble was the last time the star running back touched the ball before leaving the game with a wrist injury. A’Shawn Robinson did a terrific job of poking the ball free as he was wrapping up Johnson, and rookie middle linebacker Jarrad Divis was able to scoops up the ball and set the Lions offense up with first and goal.
Theo Riddick’s seven yard touchdown catch was a great play from the Lions runningback. He caught the pass at the five yard line, and immediately turned up field to avoid a big hit. He then eluded another three Cardinal defenders as he dove for the endzone.
TJ Jones‘ toe tapping catch was probably the most memorable play of his career to this point. Jones got open on the sideline against Tyrann Mathieu and Stafford was barely able to fit the pass in on time. Jones secured the ball and did an incredible job of keeping his feet in bounds.
Kenny Golladay’s first career touchdown gave Detroit their first lead of the game. On second and goal from the 10 yard line, Stafford just threw up a 50/50 ball for Golladay. Golladay lept over Arizona cornerback Justin Bethel and secured the pass for a touchdown.
Matthew Stafford’s 45 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay gave the Lions a comfortable lead with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Golladay again burned Cardinal’s cornerback Justin Bethel, this time on a deep go route. Stafford nearly overthrew Golladay, but the rookie receiver was able to secure the pass with a tremendous diving reception.
Carson Palmer’s third interception of the game put the game out of reach for the Cardinals. Palmer threw the ball high and behind running back Andre Ellington and the ball was deflected right into the arms of Miles Killebrew. Killebrew then had an easy stroll into the end zone to secure this game for the Lions.
Player Of The Game
Matthew Stafford was the best player on the football field Sunday. He completed 29 of his 41 pass attempts (70.1%) for 292 yards with four touchdown passes. The only blemish on his day was an early interception that was more a great play by the Cardinals defense (or arguably pass interference) than it was his fault.
In his first game after signing the richest NFL contract of all time, Stafford should why he deserves to be the highest paid player in the league. Now, he must turn his attention to next weeks opponent, the New York Giants, who boast one of the best defenses in the NFL.