Its back folks! Down the Field has returned with a vengeance. What a week one opener, huh? It looked like we were in store for a classic Lions game. They started with an interception on Palmer. “Ok, here we go! Lions look a little different than they did in preseason”. Then on Matt Stafford’s first pass into his new contract, he delivers a strike right to Justin Bethel (Cardinals Cornerback) for a touchdown. “Fuck”. Then the Washington kick return to the 7-yard line. “Oh, come ON! Seriously?” Then our punter did this sill thing where he didn’t punt it and instead of taking the safety and letting our defense try to get the ball back, he decided to take it out the end zone and promptly get injured. “Same Ol’ Lions. Its gonna be a long season!”
Then, I’m not sure what, something happened. The Lions started to make their own luck. The defensive line started to get pressure and forced another interception Stafford marched them down to the 6-yard line , scrambled around, and delivered a strike to Marvin Jones. But, of course, Prater and company botch the extra point. “Ya know, given how the games going, I’ll take 10-6” Defense gets back out there and forces a 3-and-out with 4 minutes to go in the half. Stafford stalls out. They exchange punts and the Lions get the ball back one more time before the half ends. It just so happened though that the Lions have a kicker with a cannon for a leg. Prater good from 58 and the Lions go into the break down only one point. “Hey, they’ve been in that position before. Cardinals are starting to look like the SOL by letting us hang around”
The Cardinals second drive of the second half results in a touchdown, 17-9. “It’s ok, we’ve been here before” Lions get the ball back and punt. “Fuck, again” All of a sudden, A’Shawn Robinson (second year in NFL) forces a fumble and its recovered by Jarrad Davis (rookie). “Bob Quinn guys are starting to make plays!” Stafford hits Theo for a short gain inside the 10-yard line but Theo does Theo things and makes everyone miss as he scampers into the end zone. Lions go for two but don’t get it, 17-15. 4th quarter comes and everyone is thinking the same thing, “Matt Stafford can start to earn his money in week one with another come from behind win”.
Lions get the ball back in the 4th with 14:16 to go and down two. Stafford gets the offense going with the no-huddle and delivers a jump ball to Kenny Golladay for a go-ahead score. “AINT NO HYPE TRAIN LIKE THE GOLLADAY HYPE TRAIN BECAUSE A GOLLADAY HYPE TRAIN DONT STOP!” 21-17. Lions defense gets a 3-and-out and then Stafford delivers maybe the best ball of the day. A 45-yard touchdown strike to a diving Golladay. “Mini-Tron!!!!!!” 28-17. With 4:13 to go in the game and the Lions up 2 scores, it was certainly over. Ford Field was rocking, the beer was flowing like the tributaries of the Mississippi, and dreams of Super Bowl runs were dancing like sugar plums in peoples heads. Then, another dose of pure ecstasy, Miles Killebrew returns an interception 35-yards for a score that pushes the over (48.5) and now theres a little extra money in everyones pocket. The Cardinals get a garbage time score and that was all she wrote. Lions stand strong and get a huge win at home against an Arizona team that many analysts were high on. ON TO THE CRITICISMS!
- The Defense- They were dominant in every sense of the word. They forced 4 turnovers and only allowed 45 net rushing yards. They are the main reason that Detroit won the game. If it weren’t for the defense, the game could have snowballed out of reach by the 2nd quarter. The pass rush looked exceptional despite only getting one sack. They were pressuring Palmer all day and force a lot of bad throws which resulted into turn overs. The defensive backfield, including the linebackers, looked good too. I didn’t see or hear Slay’s name much which is the best way to measure a cornerbacks day. If they can play like that on a consistent basis, playoffs shouldn’t be a surprise, they should be expected.
- Matt Stafford- GTFO for all those people shitting on him after that pick-6. Tate was basically tackled on the play which is why there was no receiver there. Ya know, lets just say that it was Stafford’s fault. Is 29/41 for 292 and 4 touchdowns not good enough for the haters? But, Dalton, he only pads his stats when games are out of reach! Stafford moved the ball consistently all day and dismantled a Cardinals team that was in the NFC Championship game only two years ago. He was dropping dimes all over the field and even his misses weren’t that bad. Pro Football Focus said if you take away drops and other things out a QBs control, Stafford threw for an 89.5% completion rate. Are you still gonna sit there and tell me he wasn’t worth the money? Idiots.
- Halftime Adjustments- I’m not sure how it happened, but I think that Caldwell out coached Bruce Arians. The 1st quarter was awful, more on that later, but they got into halftime and the Lions absolutely dominated the second half. Give credit to this coaching staff for keeping everyone level headed after a rocky start.
- Red Zone Efficiency- 3/3. Thats pretty damn good.
- The Run Game- Not a great showing for our supposedly “revamped” run game. Only totaling 82 net yards. One thing I noticed though, it seemed like the offense refused to run it over the right side. You would think with upgrading that side of the line, coupled with the speed of Abdullah, they would try the right side a little more. Instead, they kept going between the tackles and on the left side. Not sure if that was a result of game planning or what but keep on eye on where the ball gets ran next week at the Giants.
- Field Goal Unit- I know Prater boomed in a 58-yarder but you can’t mess-up extra points. Luckily, it didn’t hurt us this game but it definitely could play as a huge factor down the road. I love Prater, but missing PATs will land your unit in the bad section every week.
- 1st Quarter Everything- Maybe one of the worst opening quarters to a season that the Lions have ever had. Pick 6, bad return, botched punt, no offensive movement. For as much credit I gave the coaching staff for their halftime adjustments, I can’t look past how poorly prepared the Lions were to start that game against what appeared to be an inferior team.
- Punting- Back-up punter tore his ACL and we had Prater punting for us. Not good. Hopefully they sign a solid backup till Martin returns and we don’t have a situation like after Hanson left as our place kicker.
- 2-Point Conversions- 0/2 on plays from the 2-yard line is not a good stat to have on the record. How do you not have a handful of plays that can get you the 2-points at a 95% success rate?
Outside of the 1st quarter it is really hard to get on this team. They played dang near perfect football for 3 quarters and were lucky that the 1st quarter didn’t put them in too big of a hole. While the Giants didnt look good on SNF, playing in New York on a Monday night won’t be easy. Enjoy this high for as long as you can, because it may not make it till Tuesday.
P.S. So after the game, me and my buddy Crespi went to Greektown Casino and was part of the most electric Black Jack table you’ve ever seen. We started calling this one older guy “Coach” and he just loved it. To make a long story short, Coach won about $10,000 that night and I can’t help but feel me and Crespi helped some how. So this blog is dedicated to you Coach.