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Lions Beat Cardinals 35-23 (Week 1 Recap)

The Detroit Lions opened the season with an impressive win over the Arizona Cardinals. The league’s highest paid player looked great tossing 4 TDs with a 113 QB rating against a good Cardinals defense. The Lions defense was stifling and forced 4 turnovers giving Stafford some short fields finally. Mile Killebrew sealed the game with a pick 6 in the 4th Quarter for a 35-17 lead in a 35-23 Lions win at Ford Field.

First Quarter Disaster

Detroit allowed a first down but then Carson Palmer air mailed a throw that was picked off by Tavon Wilson. Detroit was looking great in Cardinals territory. Disaster struck as the Cardinals defender impeded Golden Tate on a crossing route which caused an interception. Justin Bethel returned the pick for a score and early 7-0 Arizona lead. This was DPI but the refs refused to call it and gave Arizona 7 points.

Detroit continued to look sluggish on offense with a 3 and out but the Lions D stood tall forcing a 3 and out. Detroit went 3 and out again but this time Kasey Redfern muffed the snap and tried to run out of the end zone. He got clobbered and hurt his knee short of the sticks. Arizona took over at the Lions 13 yard line. Detroit’ defense rose up big time. They stopped the Cardinals not only once but twice (after a bogus leaping penalty called on Anthony Zettel when he didn’t even leap). Detroit made the stop on 3rd and goal and Phil Dawson nailed the 24 yard field goal for a disastrous 10-0 lead for Arizona.

Second Quarter Rebound

Detroit’s woes continues as Dwayne Washington made a dumb mistake and brought a muffed ball out of the end zone and was tackled at the five yard line. The Lions ran 9 plays with two first downs and got field position back which was key.

Palmer hit Fitzgerald for one big first down of 33 yards on a crossing route. Arizona looked like they were taking full control and I had just broken my pinkie finger in rage. Then the Lions woke up. They got pressure on Palmer and forced another high throw for Glover Quin pick. Quin returned the ball to the Cardinals 42 yard line. Detroit had an actual short field (only 6 last year).

The Lions drove 42 yards in 11 plays and Stafford hit Marvin Jones for a 6 yard TD. Stafford had a big 15 yard scramble avoiding a sure sack and hit Ebron for a big five yard first down on the drive. Marvin Jones beat Patrick Peterson as Stafford scrambled to buy time. It worked for a TD. Specials teams was a problem with the injured punter as 3rd string holder in Jake Rudock was in the game. He muffed the snap and had to run costing Detroit a punt. Detroit was down 10-6.

The teams traded punts but the Cardinals offense finally got going. Palmer hit John Brown for two first downs, Fitzgerald for another and a DPI on Lawson gave Arizona a free first down. Detroit bent but didn’t break and held strong in the red zone forcing three incompletions. Phil Dawson missed the 32 yard chip shot field goal.

Detroit still had time and the Matts (Stafford and Prater). The Lions drove 38 yards with strikes to Theo Riddick and Golden Tate. Despite the backup holder, Prater nailed a 58 yard field goal as the half expired. The Lions were back within one point down 10-9.

Back and Forth Third Quarter

Detroit received the ball to start but had to punt. Third string punter Matt Prater got a good punt and pinned the Cardinals at their own 6 yard line. However, Arizona made adjustments on offense and moved the ball. They drove 94 yards in 12 plays and Kerywnn Williams punched it in from three yards out for the 17-9 Cardinals lead. It was looking ad for Detroit.

Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 31 yards but the drive stalled after that. Detroit just couldn’t get it going again on offense. The Cardinals were pinned deep again and David Johnson ran the ball. A’Shawn Robinson appeared like an angel from heaven and stripped Johnson. The Lions finally recovered a fumble as Jarrad Davis returned the ball to the Arizona 10. Two short fields in one game!!! Unbelievable!

Stafford hit Theo Riddick for the 7 yard score and Detroit was back in the game. The 2 point attempt to tie failed and Detroit trailed 17-15.

The Cardinals earned a first down but Detroit’s defense stood up. Anthony Zettel sacked Carson Palmer for the first Lions sack of the day. This sack couldn’t have come at a better time.

Fourth Quarter Lions Domination

Detroit got the ball at the Lions own 33 after a nice Jamaal Agnew punt return of 24 yards. The Lions had a block in the back penalty on TJ Lang to start the drive. Lang was quoted as saying they never used to call that when he was with Green Bay so he was surprised he got a penalty. Anyway, Detroit rebounded and Stafford hit TJ Jones who made a great adjustment for a 16 yard catch. Stafford threw a dart to Golden Tate (who was playing with a busted finger) for 17 yards. Stafford hit TJ Jones again for a toe tap 16 yard completion. Finally, on second and goal, Kenny Golladay showed why the Lions drafted him. Golladay caught a fade over Justin Bethel for the 8 yard TD. Detroit led 21-17. Detroit missed the two pointer again but led 21-17. Golladay had a big first TD.

The Cardinals hit Andre Ellington for a 24 yard gainer in the flat but Detroit’s defense rose up again forcing an incomplete pass after a Cardinals OPI on the previous play. The Lions had control of the ball with a 4 point lead.

The Lions offense was in full force now and drove 72 yards in five plays. Abdullah finally had two nice runs in a row for a first down. On second and 9, Stafford went for the kill. He threw a great deep ball and Kenny Golladay made an incredible diving catch for the 49 yard TD. Lions were up 28-17 and in full control.

The Cardinals had one more chance but Carson Palmer overthrew his WR and right into the arms of Killebrew. Killebrew returned it 35 yards for the back breaking TD. Lions led 35-17.

Arizona would drive 75 yards and 10 plays in garbage time for a late score. Arizona’s on side kick went out of bounds and Detroit could kneel for the win.

Summary

The Lions offense finally woke up in the second quarter and beyond plus defense looked great with some help from Palmer. The Lions run defense was stout stopping David Johnson. Despite a slow start with a pick 6, kick return woes from Dwayne Washington, punter muffs and injuries, and poor rushing attack, Detroit dominated enough to win this game. It was a great win at home to set the tone for the season.

Detroit is now 6-1 in season openers since 2011 and 18-7 at home under Caldwell.

Detroit travels to the New York Giants (0-1) for a Monday Night Football game in Week 2. The Giants lost 19-3 in Week 1 and Detroit will want revenge for the loss in New York last year.