What they're saying after the Lions' upset of the Patriots

Detroit News staff
Sunday’s win had media pundits saying nice things about the Lions, for one night, at least.

What analysts were saying around the country about Sunday night’s 26-10 victory over the Patriots, the Lions’ first win of the season:

► The offense rediscovered a run game after a half-decade away. Matthew Stafford played his best game of the season, connecting on 60 percent of his passes that went at least 15 yards in the air. The defense found efficiency for the first time under Matt Patricia. And a team that looked like it might have been one of the worst in the NFL now looked like one that could compete.

Sunday night’s win doesn’t erase that the Lions lost by 31 points to the Jets in the season opener or that they trailed by 17 points in the fourth quarter against San Francisco ... but it does offer an idea of what Detroit is capable of when it does play well. Sunday night looked more like the team the Lions had hoped — maybe expected — to be this season instead of the group they were throughout a rough preseason and an ugly first two weeks.

— Michael Rothstein, ESPN

More: Lions' confidence swells after upset over Patriots

More: Snap observations: Full day's work pays off for Lions' starting offensive line

► We can stop talking about first-year coach Matt Patricia being on the hot seat. Seriously, these were real conversations two weeks into his tenure because these are the things you talk about when you get blown out in the season opener by the Jets and in the process suffer the worst debut by a Lions coach. And then you travel to San Francisco and fall to a mediocre 49ers team.

And no one gave Patricia or the Lions a chance against the Patriots, partly because of the way the team played to begin the season and partly because former Bill Belichick assistants almost never beat their boss. In fact, Belichick has a 11-4 mark against his former assistants in New England who went on to head-coaching gigs elsewhere, and he’s 3-1 against them when they meet for the first time. Prior to Sunday night, only Josh McDaniels had a winning record (1-0) against Belichick. We can now add Patricia’s name to the Wall of Winners. (By the way, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Bill O’Brien are a combined 3-11.)

— Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

► Defensive guru Matt Patricia and his offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, scripted a near-perfect game plan, including an outstanding opening drive that set the tone for the game and gave the Lions a lead they were never in jeopardy of losing.

The play-calling mix was near-perfect all game long — the Lions passed 36 times and ran 33 times — with quarterback Matthew Stafford selling the play-action to let the run set up the pass. He hit on 12 of his first 13 tosses.

— Jim McBride, Boston Globe

► Buoyed by a drought-breaking running attack and patient play-calling, the Lions held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game and racked up 25 first downs for the second week in a row. The defense, victimized just two weeks ago by a rookie quarterback in his first start, shut down the greatest quarterback of all time, sacking him twice, and forced four three-and-outs, including three to start the game.

Just like that, Detroit’s Week 1 blowout loss and overall rocky start is a thing of the past. The Lions sit a half-game behind the division’s top contenders, Green Bay and Minnesota, with a winnable game at Dallas coming up next week. The season has started anew, as has the once-fated-to-flounder Patricia era.

— Jeremy Bergman, NFL.com

► Either the New England Patriots employ a couple psychics on their defense, or the Detroit Lions need to change up their audibles. The Patriots may have exposed a flaw in Detroit’s offense Sunday night, as the team appeared to call out a Lions play just before the ball was snapped.

The Lions have had an issue this season with defenses calling out their plays. The New York Jets boasted that they knew what plays the Lions were running after their Week 1 blowout win over Detroit.

Because of that, the Lions may want to consider making some adjustments to the way Stafford uses hand signals or audibles. You know, just to be safe.

For this week, at least, it didn’t matter. The Patriots couldn’t figure out the Lions’ offense enough in Week 3.

— Chris Cwik, Yahoo Sports